Detroit — Ron Gardenhire sat in his office before a game last week musing about the organization’s plan to limit the innings of young starting pitchers Spencer Turnbull and Daniel Norris.
“Me and Andy (pitching coach Rick Anderson) have been really cognizant of that,” Gardenhire said. “Like, where are we going to go?”
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
So, on Monday, the Tigers signed veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson to a minor-league contract. They are going to need somebody, perhaps a couple of pitchers, to eat up innings in the last month and a half of the season.
Turnbull is back on the injured list with a back strain. Michael Fulmer and Matt Moore have been out all season. Tyson Ross made seven starts, none since May 10 and there is no timetable for his return.
The Tigers presently have Matthew Boyd, Jordan Zimmermann, Norris (for maybe six or seven more starts) and rookie Tyler Alexander in their rotation. Alexander has made two starts, but counting his workload at Triple-A Toledo, he’s thrown 97 innings this season.
The most he’s thrown in a season was 140 last year.
Two young pitchers that Tigers hoped, still hope, to add to the mix — Kyle Funkhouser and Beau Burrows — have dealt with injuries and inconsistency this season. Of the two, Burrows seems closer to getting called up.
Left-hander Gregory Soto has made seven spot starts this season. He’s working a long relief role right now, but he also could be moved into the rotation at some point.
So, adding all that up and factoring the Tigers’ limited budget in a year where they are pushing 100 losses, the signing of a low-cost veteran like Jackson seems inevitable.
He will be 36 in September and was an All-Star with the Tigers in 2009. Over a 17-year career, Jackson has pitched for a record 14 different teams. He was with the Toronto Blue Jays this season, posting a 1-5 record with an 11.12 ERA and 1.26 WHIP before being released Friday.
He hasn’t pitched since July 15.
Still, for a team that needs a reliable veteran to take the ball every five days, this is the guy. He’s made 310 starts and thrown nearly 2,000 innings in his career, and he can still run his fastball to the plate at 93-94 mph. .
He is expected to report to Toledo and make at least a couple of starts to rebuild his pitch count.
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