Julio Teheran, Tarik Skubal earn spots in Tigers rotation; Spencer Turnbull to start on IL
Lakeland, Fla. — Oh man, it would’ve been such a cool moment.
Just imagine. Manager AJ Hinch lets rookie Tarik Skubal pitch to one batter in the fifth inning. Gives him one more up-down, gets to his pitch-count and as he’s taking the ball from him says, “Oh, and by the way, you’ve made the team. You’re in the rotation.”
Finally maybe we’d all have seen a smile crease Skubal’s ever-stoic face. Instead, Skubal walked the leadoff hitter in the fifth on Tuesday, his fifth walk of the game.
“I can’t say that on the mound after he walked a hitter,” Hinch said, retelling the story Wednesday morning. “My masterplan to make him smile on the field and reward him for a job well-done got ruined by one too many walks yesterday.
“I told him this morning that I was still going to deliver good news to him, but he missed the moment.”
Hinch informed both Skubal and non-roster invitee Julio Teheran that they had made the Opening Day roster and would both have spots in the rotation.
“Both earned the right to be on the team,” Hinch said. “Julio told me early in camp that he was betting on himself. He wanted me to watch him pitch and give him an opportunity. Really, he came out and took a rotation spot quickly.”
To clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Teheran — who secured a $3 million salary by making the team — the Tigers placed starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull on the non-baseball (COVID-19) injured list. It is unclear when Turnbull will be able to return.
“Teheran, this guy has accomplished more than people probably appreciate, unless you are a Braves fan or somebody who’s really focused on his career,” Hinch said. “He’s logged a lot of innings and made 30-plus starts just about every year. I told him we’d like nothing more than for him to go wire-to-wire in our rotation and help us win.”
Skubal and Teheran join Opening Day starter Matthew Boyd as confirmed members of the rotation. Jose Urena, who got the start on Wednesday against the Phillies, is expected to be the fourth starter.
The fifth spot is up for grabs between veteran Michael Fulmer and rookie Casey Mize. Both will pitch Thursday in Dunedin against the Blue Jays. Mize will start and Fulmer will again pitch extended innings out of the bullpen.
The Tigers aren’t expected to use a sixth starting pitcher until later in April.
Hinch on Wednesday morning also met with non-roster relievers Ian Krol and Erasmo Ramirez. He told them they were not going to be on the Opening Day roster, nor were they necessarily cut.
“I communicated to both that they would stay with us through the remainder of camp, continue to pitch and continue to workout with the big-league club,” Hinch said.
In all likelihood, both will start the season at the alternate site in Toledo and be among the first call-up options as the season wears on.
“They were not highly-acclaimed or necessarily popular additions, but they both are going to pitch for us in the minor leagues and in the major leagues,” Hinch said. “It’s going to be a tricky season. You need a lot of pitching in a normal season, let alone a post-shortened season.”
Veteran lefty Derek Holland remains the last non-roster pitcher still in the hunt for a spot.