Tigers roster expanding, but where do Christin Stewart and Jeimer Candelario fit?
Detroit — The Tigers waited until after Monday's 4-3 loss to the Twins to announce which players from Triple-A Toledo will be joining them for the rest of the season, but manager Ron Gardenhire was right — there were no surprises.
Center field prospect Daz Cameron was not among them. Even though the Tigers will likely add him to the 40-man roster this offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, he endured a rough season, hitting .214 with 152 strikeouts in 524 plate appearances.
The three position players called up were three players who began the season in the Tigers’ everyday lineup — left fielder Christin Stewart, third baseman Jeimer Candelario and catcher Grayson Greiner.
But there is no guarantee those players will return to everyday status. They most likely won’t.
“Everybody is going to get a chance to play, I know that,” Gardenhire said. “That’s what I will do the rest of the way through — use everybody, move people around, and it’s all looking forward to next year. If they’re swinging good, they’ll be in there.
“If they’re swinging like (crap), they can sit with me and help me manage.”
On the pitching side, Tyler Alexander, Daniel Stumpf and Zac Reininger were added to the roster. On Sunday the Tigers called up relievers Bryan Garcia and John Schreiber.
Let’s take a look at how this could play out, position by position:
Gardenhire said Spencer Turnbull and Edwin Jackson, both of whom have struggled mightily of late, will stay in the rotation.
“Bull is going all the way,” Gardenhire said. “We don’t have to control his innings. He does that really well.”
Not in a good way, though. Turnbull has finished six innings just twice in his last 11 starts. Jackson hasn’t pitched beyond five innings since his first start with the Tigers.
Add Daniel Norris, who will also remain in the rotation but limited to three innings each start, and the Tigers essentially have three part-time starters in the rotation, along with Matthew Boyd and Jordan Zimmermann.
So Alexander, Drew VerHagen and Gregory Soto will continue to be used in piggy-back, long-relief situations.
“Tyler will get in plenty of pitching,” Gardenhire said.
As will every pitcher in the bullpen.
It will be all hands on deck, but the Tigers will be taking a close look at Garcia, Schreiber, Soto, Matt Hall and Jose Cisnero to see where or if they might fight into the 2020 plans.
Stumpf, who dominated again at Triple-A, will likely be given ample opportunity to re-establish himself.
Joe Jimenez will continue to be the closer, but Buck Farmer, who has worked in 61 games this season, may see his load reduced.
Jake Rogers will continue to get the bulk of the work. He is trying to change his swing mechanics on the fly, which is a near-impossible task at this level. But the Tigers hope he can work through it ahead of spring training.
Greiner likely will be his primary backup. John Hicks could get more work at first base and spelling Miguel Cabrera at designated hitter.
Dawel Lugo has made the most of his opportunity at third base. He’s answered all the questions defensively and recently his offense has picked up. He’s hit safely in nine of his last 10 games, hitting .368 in that stretch.
So, what are the Tigers going to do with Candelario? Before he injured his thumb, he’d been working in at first base while Lugo started at third. But he was stinging the ball again in his last stint at Toledo (.323 average, slugging .597 with a 1.029 OPS in 16 games).
“You know what, I will put out a lineup tomorrow and you guys can write it up any way you want to,” Gardenhire said. “Everybody will play.”
Willi Castro will get most, if not all, the starts at shortstop. Jordy Mercer, Ronny Rodriguez and Harold Castro will continue to rotate in a second base. Mercer and Rodriguez have been playing first base, too, but expect Hicks to get more starts there.
Playing time could be scarce for veteran Gordon Beckham the rest of the way.
The Tigers have not given up on Stewart, and he hit well the last month at Toledo (.300, .475 slugging, .904 OPS, four home runs) as he returned from the concussion.
But the Tigers have been getting good production out of three players who could be regular players next season — Victor Reyes, Harold Castro and Travis Demeritte. They aren’t likely to shut down their auditions.
Brandon Dixon, too, has played mostly outfield since Stewart’s been gone, and his 14 home runs continue to lead the club.
It’s possible Gardenhire will spread the at-bats around by rotating four or five outfielders each game.
On deck: Royals
Series: Three-game series at Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
First pitch: Tuesday-Wednesday – 8:15 p.m.; Thursday – 1:15 p.m.
TV/radio: Tuesday-Thursday – FSD/97.1
Probables: Tuesday – LHP Daniel Norris (3-11, 4.66) vs. LHP Mike Montgomery (3-7, 4.66); Wednesday – RHP Edwin Jackson (3-8, 9.35) vs. RHP Jakob Junis (8-12, 4.93); Thursday – LHP Matthew Boyd (7-10, 4.58) vs. RHP Glenn Sparkman (3-10, 5.86).
►Norris, Tigers: This will be his fifth straight three-inning start, as he’s already established a career-high with 129.1 innings. In his last nine innings, over three starts, he’s allowed a run and five hits with nine strikeouts. Opponents are hitting .156 against him.
►Montgomery, Royals: He stymied the Tigers back on Aug. 10, striking out 12 in seven scoreless innings. His change-up flummoxed the Tigers’ hitters. He got 10 swings and misses with it. He has allowed two earned runs or less in four of his last five starts.