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Cleveland — It was suggested to manager Ron Gardenhire before the game that this could be Matthew Boyd’s last start for the Tigers.

“Don’t put that in my head,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do about it. I just know one thing, I can’t control it. I can’t walk up to Al (Avila’s) office and say, ‘Please don’t do that.’ It doesn’t do you any good. If it’s good for the organization, that’s what he’s going to do.”

If there is anything Gardenhire can take solace in, less than two weeks before the July 31 trade deadline, is there won’t be a fire sale.

“I know Al’s not going to just give anybody away,” he said. “We’re going to get people back. That’s part of this build. We don’t have to trade him. Boyd is under control (for three more years). He’s got a really good pitcher here and I know he’s very cognizant of that.

“If we could load up on position players, or something like that, I think he’d do it. But it’s going to have to be a good package.”

Boyd probably has a lesser chance of being dealt than either closer Shane Greene or right fielder Nick Castellanos. That’s because the asking price for Boyd is higher.

“We know what we’re trying to do,” Gardenhire said. “They are asking a lot. That was always the plan. They aren’t going to just trade him for somebody who might be three or four years away. We’ve got plenty of those guys.”

Gardenhire was asked about the intangible value of keeping Boyd, who has taken a more vocal and hands-on leadership role this season and could be a positive mentor for the crop of pitching prospects due in Detroit over the next two seasons.

“That would be great,” he said. “We talked a lot about leadership in the offseason and how did that work out?”

The Tigers didn’t offer contracts to either James McCann or Alex Wilson — both instrumental in keeping the clubhouse in order last season.

“Our coaching staff talks about that more than the front office does,” Gardenhire said. “We talk about how valuable it is, how it’s needed. They’re not concerned about that too awful much. They are more concerned about making the team better with players.

“Not the leadership part or anything like that. But if you’ve been in the game, you understand the value of that.”

Shutting down starters

In a campaign where four-fifths of the starting rotation has gone down, two of them for the season, the prospect of losing Boyd at the trade deadline may be terrifying to Gardenhire and Rick Anderson. Especially since young starters Spencer Turnbull and Daniel Norris are likely to get shut down in September when they reach their innings limit.

“We’re worrying about those guys going seven, eight innings, but how much longer are we going to have them as starters,” Gardenhire said. “Me and Andy are really cognizant of that because, who are we going to get to replace them?”

The Tigers have struggled to find a fifth starter for the last two months. Ryan Carpenter, Gregory Soto and Tyler Alexander have been thrown into the fray with sub-optimal results. The depth at Triple-A Toledo is also thin.

To fill three more spots in the rotation, if Boyd is traded, seems impossible at this point.

“There are bigger eyes than ours watching this, believe me,” Gardenhire said, referring to the front office. “We’re going to discuss all this stuff when we get home. They have an innings limit in mind for these guys. We’re going to talk about a lot of this stuff, what they want us to do and how they want us to do it.

“And how they’re going to fill the holes. But we are a ways away from that now.”

Turnbull has thrown 98⅔ innings this season. The most he’s thrown in a season is 119⅓. Norris has thrown 96⅓. Coming off groin surgery last year, he was limited to 70⅔ innings, including a 14⅔-inning stint in the Dominican Winter League.

Norris’ limit could be around 120 innings, Turnbull between 140-150.

Ramirez an option?

Long reliever Nick Ramirez may be somebody the Tigers look at to fill a rotation spot in September. He’s already stretched out to 50-60 pitches and he made five starts between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo, throwing as many as 92.

“I haven’t had no word of that so far,” Ramirez said. “Whatever I need to do. It doesn’t matter to me.”

Ramirez, a converted first baseman who has been pitching for three years, has already demonstrated the ability to stretch out his pitch count in a hurry. He went from being a one-inning reliever at the start of spring training to throwing 90-pitch outings in three weeks.

“Yeah, I did it pretty quick,” he said. “I threw one inning in spring training, then I threw a 45-pitch live batting practice — 15 pitches, sit, 15 pitches, sit, 15 pitches. Then in my first start, I threw 60 pitches. My next start was 75 pitches.”

Around the horn

After Thursday's 6-3 loss, the Tigers options outfielder Victor Reyes back to Triple-A Toledo. JaCoby Jones is expected to be activated off the injured list before the game Friday.

On deck: Blue Jays

Series: Three-game series at Comerica Park

First pitch: Friday – 7:10 p.m.; Saturday – 6:10 p.m.; Sunday – 1:10 p.m.

TV/radio: Friday-Sunday – FSD/97.1

Probables: Friday – RHP Marcus Stroman (5-10, 3.25) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (0-6, 7.01); Saturday – RHP Trent Thornton (3-7, 5.25) vs. LHP Daniel Norris (2-8, 5.14); Sunday – TBA vs. TBA.

►Zimmermann, Tigers: If only he could channel the performance he gave on Opening Day in Toronto, but the seven innings of one-hit, shutout ball seem long ago. He’s still searching for his first win since last September, and over the his last nine starts, his ERA is 9.23 and opponents are hitting .363, slugging .602 and have an OPS of 1.018.

►Stroman, Blue Jays: As his name continues to be bandied about in trade rumors, he’s allowed two runs or less in his last five starts, with opponents hitting .245. His money pitch, the slider, has been on point, holding hitters to a .172 average with a 31.5 percent strikeout rate and a 36 percent whiff rate.  

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky

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