As the 2021 season winds down, the Detroit Tigers believe they will need as much pitching as possible.
They started to stockpile for the final two months by adding right-handed reliever Nivaldo Rodriguez off waivers Monday from the Houston Astros. He was designated for assignment by the Astros on Saturday.
The Tigers had two of their 40-man spots open and filled one by picking up Rodriguez, who has reported to Triple-A Toledo.
“When the opportunity presents itself to add some young talent, we’re going to do so,” manager AJ Hinch, who managed the Astros from 2015-19, said Tuesday. “I don’t know him very well. I got little familiar at the tail end of my time there. He was just getting put on the roster.”
Rodriguez, 24, has a 2.45 ERA, four walks and three strikeouts in 7⅓ innings over four relief appearances this season. He posted a 6.23 ERA, six walks and eight strikeouts over 8⅔ innings in 2020, which didn’t feature the minor leagues because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He’s a four-pitch mix guy who probably suffered the most by the COVID year,” Hinch said. “He was raced to the big leagues, arguably prematurely because of need, and with no minor-league season to play, he got thrown into the deep end of the pool.”
For Triple-A Sugar Land this season, Rodriguez had a 6.26 ERA, 16 walks and 25 strikeouts in 27⅓ innings over 10 games (six starts). He logged a 2.40 ERA, 35 walks and 114 strikeouts across 105 innings in 2019 between Low-A Quad Cities and High-A Fayetteville.
Rodriguez has started 35 of 68 games in his minor-league career.
“It’s a young arm who isn’t developed fully at all,” Hinch said. “We’re going to take an opportunity to fill our roster and take a shot at making him better.”
The Tigers have new developments with three injured players: second baseman Isaac Paredes (right hip strain, injured list on July 22), outfielder Daz Cameron (right toe sprain, IL on July 7) and left-handed pitcher Matthew Boyd (left arm discomfort, IL on June 15).
Paredes left Sunday’s game in Triple-A Toledo — part of his rehab assignment — and has been transferred to Lakeland, Florida. Paredes needed six seconds to run from home plate to first base, so the Tigers knew something wasn’t right.
“He’s shut down,” Hinch said. “He had a little bit of a setback in his last game and he’s headed to Lakeland. He’ll be pulled off his rehab assignment for five days and reevaluated. … It wasn’t a reaggravation or anything like that. It was just still symptomatic, so we moved his rehab to Lakeland.”
Hinch also provided the latest on Cameron and Boyd.
“Daz is with the Triple-A team. He’s going to run and do his running progression in Nashville,” Hinch said. “Best-case scenario is him getting into a game this weekend. If we have to go a little bit longer, they have the off-day Monday and it might be the next series. But we’re happy with where he’s at.
“Matt Boyd is going to throw a live batting practice this weekend, most likely on Sunday. He threw a bullpen yesterday and felt really good. The data was really good coming out of that. His feeling was really good coming out of that. He’ll have another bullpen and then a live BP session this weekend.”
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.