Detroit Tigers right-handed pitcher Ivan Nova’s arm felt sore after Friday’s start against the Cleveland Indians, so he decided to check in with trainers.
By Saturday afternoon, the Tigers placed him on the 10-day injured list with right triceps tendinitis and recalled right-hander Anthony Castro from the alternate training site in Toledo to take his spot on the roster.
Nova, on a one-year contract, has an 8.53 ERA with nine strikeouts and nine walks in 19 innings across four starts. He tossed 53 pitches in Detroit’s 10-5 loss Friday to the Indians, giving up eight runs on five hits and two walks with one strikeout.
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“It’s nothing too big,” Nova said Saturday. “We’ve got a couple of days to work it out. Hopefully, I’ll be back on the mound soon.”
Because of Nova’s injury and left-hander Tyler Alexander’s return to the bullpen, the Tigers have two open spots in the rotation. Many are asking the same question: Will top pitching prospect Casey Mize make his debut?
“We’ve written it all out,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We’ve written this thing out about five different times and five different ways. We’ll get it all straightened out. There’s a lot of decisions to make. We’ll let them do that, and then we’ll go from there.”
Gardenhire said Alexander will piggyback right-hander Michael Fulmer’s Sunday start against the Indians, leaving voids Monday and Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox.
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One of those spots, however, could be filled by left-hander Daniel Norris, but it’s unlikely because he tossed 32 pitches Friday in relief of Nova. He lost the starting job in Game 2 of an Aug. 2 doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks in 1⅔innings.
Because of Norris’ struggles, Alexander took his role in the rotation after a nine consecutive strikeout performance in Game 1 of that doubleheader. But Alexander faltered in an 8-4 loss to the White Sox on Wednesday, so Gardenhire has decided to push him back to the bullpen.
The three confirmed starters in the rotation are left-hander Matthew Boyd, right-hander Spencer Turnbull and right-hander Michael Fulmer. While Boyd has a league-worst 10.24 ERA, Fulmer is unable to pitch more than three innings as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
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Regarding Mize and fellow pitching prospect Matt Manning, Gardenhire said his staff is engaged in “nonstop conversation” with the coaches in Toledo, but he hasn’t paid attention to the last time Mize pitched at the alternate training site (it was Friday).
Across 21 starts between Double-A Erie and High-A Lakeland last season, Mize had a 2.72 ERA, 0.942 WHIP and 106 strikeouts to 23 walks. He tossed 109⅓ innings.
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“I’ve seen his videos, and I do what they tell me,” Gardenhire said about Mize. “You know what, there are more people out there that know what’s going on down there. I’ve got enough up here. We’re trying to figure things out. We got some injuries going on.
“When it’s his time, I’m sure (general manager) Al Avila will let you guys know.”
Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Detroit Tigers content.