Sold for a buck? New Tigers reliever McKay's story has familiar ring

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
David McKay

Detroit – New Tigers reliever David McKay doesn’t know who Kris Draper is, but the two have something very unique in common.

Once upon a time, Draper was sold from the Winnipeg Jets to the Red Wings for a dollar. And before the 2017 season, McKay was sold to the Seattle Mariners, also for a dollar.

“Honestly, I got a fresh start and I think I made the most of it,” said McKay, who is 24 and was claimed off waivers by the Tigers last week. “One team didn’t see me fitting in their plans and the other team wanted me.

“No matter what the trade was for, you just have to take advantage and make the most of every opportunity you get.”

Opportunity is knocking again. McKay got to the big leagues with the Mariners this season, though his stay was brief and frustrating. He made seven appearances and allowed four earned runs and eight walks in seven innings.

“It was more just being too mechanical and thinking too much,” he said. “Instead of just picking up the target and going. I’ve been working hard at that, just the mental side.”

He got hit hard after he went back to Triple-A Tacoma (nine runs in 5.1 innings) and was waived on Aug. 6. A week and one strong outing at Toledo later, he’s the 31st pitcher the Tigers have had on the active roster this season.

“Any opportunity you get, just try to make the most of it,” he said.

McKay is technically a two-pitch pitcher, but good luck trying to figure out exactly what he’s throwing. Statcast lists his pitches as a sinker (93 mph) and a curveball. McKay will tell you he throws a four-seam fastball that has a lot of run on it and a hybrid slider-curve.

“The Statcast people probably don’t like me much,” he said.

The Tigers will like him if his six-strikeout performance in two innings at Toledo translates to the big leagues.

And he can only hope his Detroit opportunity works out as well as Draper’s did. He was sold for a Canadian dollar (worth about 60 cents U.S. at the time) and helped the Wings win four Stanley Cups.

He allowed a run and struck out two against his former mates in his Tigers' debut Thursday. J.P Crawford lead off the eighth inning with a double and after striking out Keon Broxton and Dylan Moore, McKay gave up a bloop RBI single to Mallex Smith. 

Jay Tough

Tigers first-year public address announcer Jay Allen’s voice sounded clear and strong – and eerily reminiscent of Hall-of-Fame broadcaster Mel Allen – on Thursday.

You’d never know he was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 bile duct cancer. He was diagnosed on Tuesday and told the cancer had already spread to his liver and lungs.

“He has begun a battle for his life,” his wife Lisa wrote on the Go Fund Me page. “The medical team says the average life expectancy is 18 months, but we know Jay and the Lord have other plans. Jay is strong on his faith and we believe that by his faith, Jay will be healed.

“We are in Jay's corner and we will fight this battle with him.”

The Allens are asking for help with the medical costs. Donations can be made at GoFundMe at Jay’s Crazy Cancer Journey. As of Thursday morning, they’d raised $3,740 dollars and set the goal at $50,000.

Around the horn 

The Tigers sent corner infielder Jeimer Candelario (thumb) to Toledo Thursday to begin a rehab assignment.

… Left fielder Christin Stewart (concussion) went 2-for-5 in his rehab start with the Mud Hens Wednesday. He was the team’s DH. Catcher Grayson Greiner (back) went 0-for-4 in his first rehab start at High-A Lakeland.

… The Tigers will start Daniel Norris on Friday and Matthew Boyd on Sunday in Tampa. The Saturday starter has not been named, but barring a setback, it’s likely to be the return of Jordan Zimmermann, who is eligible to come off the injured list.  

On deck: Rays

Series: Three-game series at Tropicana Field.

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

TV/radio: Friday-Sunday – FSD/97.1 FM

Probables: Friday – LHP Daniel Norris (3-10, 4.94) vs. RHP Charlie Morton (13-4, 2.90); Saturday – RHP Jordan Zimmermann (tentative) vs. LHP Ryan Yarbrough (11-3, 3.56); Sunday – LHP Matthew Boyd (6-9, 4.38) vs. TBA.


Norris, Tigers: His last start was marred by a blister on his finger that made it nearly impossible to grip his split change-up. He ended up allowing three home runs in three innings. The Tigers are closely monitoring his innings, so he’s not likely to go beyond five innings.

Morton, Rays: He ranks in the top 10 in the American League in fielding independent pitching (first, 2.79), ERA (third), wins (fifth), strikeouts per nine (sixth, 11.11), and WHIP (sixth, 1.089). On June 5, he blanked the Tigers for seven innings (five hits, eight strikeouts) at Comerica Park.

Twitter @cmccosky