Tigers face dilemma with pitching prospect Burrows

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Right-handed pitching prospect Beau Burrows, the club’s first-round pick in 2015, had a rough season at Triple-A Toledo. He dealt with a shoulder injury and he never really found a groove.

Houston — The numbers didn’t matter that much to the Tigers front office.

Right-handed pitching prospect Beau Burrows, the club’s first-round pick in 2015, had a rough season at Triple-A Toledo. He dealt with a shoulder injury and he never really found a groove.

Still, with roster decisions looming this offseason, the Tigers wanted to bring him up in September and assess how far he’d fallen.

“There’s been a lot of names that we’ve talked about and he was a possibility,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It was going to depend on innings and health and all those things. It all kind of takes care of itself eventually.”

It did take care of itself, but not in a good way. Burrows, 22, was shut down for the rest of the season with a left oblique strain.

It will be interesting to see how the Tigers will proceed. He will need to go on the 40-man roster to be protected from the Rule 5 draft. The promise he showed in the lower levels of the minor leagues hasn’t transferred to the higher levels.

He was 2-6 with a 5.51 ERA and a 1.531 WHIP in 15 starts at Toledo this season. Opponents hit .251 with an .816 OPS against him. Right-handed hitters, alarmingly, hit .289 with a .955 OPS against him.

Including a start at Double-A Erie and another at High-A Lakeland, he gave up 71 hits in 74 1/3 innings with a less-than-stellar 69-36 strikeout-to-walk rate.

He fell out of the top 10 on the Tigers’ prospects list (per MLB Pipeline) down to 14.

There had been discussions within the organization about shifting him to the bullpen. If that happens, would they still protect him from the Rule 5 draft?

Ten of the top 30 prospects will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Among pitchers other than Burrows who would need to be protected include, Kyle Funkhouser, Bryan Garcia, Logan Shore, Nolan Blackwood, Anthony Castro, Zac Houston and Elvin Rodriguez.

Burrows, who is expected to make a full recovery and be ready next spring, is one of many tough decisions the Tigers face this offseason.

Around the horn

Left-hander Blaine Hardy said Tuesday that the Platelet-Rich Plasma injection he got in his left arm from James Andrews went well. He won’t be able to pick up a ball for at least six weeks.

… Travis Demeritte, who had started 18 straight games and was one of the hottest hitters on the team, and Niko Goodrum, were held out of the starting lineup Tuesday with sore groins. It was the third game in a row that Goodrum missed. Gardenhire, who said playing on the turf at Tropicana Park in St. Petersburg, Florida, did damage to several players’ legs, thought both players could be used if necessary, but he wanted to avoid it.

…As expected, left-hander Tyler Alexander was recalled from Toledo to take the place of Matthew Boyd, who started his four-day paternity leave. Gardenhire said he hopes he can use Alexander to piggy-back with Daniel Norris on Wednesday. But if needed to use him Tuesday, he would.

… The Tigers promoted infield prospect Kody Clemens from High-A Lakeland to Double-A Erie. He is the No. 17-rated prospect in the system.

Tigers at Astros

First pitch: Wednesday, 8:10 p.m.

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Scouting report

LHP Daniel Norris (3-10, 4.82), Tigers: He’s on the clock now as far as his innings limit. He pitched just three innings in his last two starts. The goal, even in a piggy-back start, would be five innings. His fastball has been an issue, not velocity as much as command. He has an above-average spin rate on it, yet opponents are slugging .621 off it with 15 home runs.

RHP Justin Verlander (15-4, 2.81), Astros: He just keeps getting better. The 36-year-old, the leader in the clubhouse for AL Cy Young honors, carries an Astros’ record streak of six straight games with double-digit strikeouts. He’s the oldest pitcher since Randy Johnson in 2002 to accomplish that.

Twitter.com: @cmccosky