The Tigers have announced that left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez has been placed on the 15-day injured list with a left ribcage sprain. The move is retroactive to May 19. Another E-Rod is joining the team in a corresponding move, as righty Elvin Rodriguez has been recalled from Triple-A Toledo.
Eduardo was removed from his start on May 18 after recording just one out due to discomfort in his side. An MRI performed in the subsequent days didn’t find anything concerning about his oblique or intercostal muscles, making his ailment a bit of a mystery. It seems the team’s personnel have settled on a diagnosis, though no timeline was provided for his absence.
Regardless of how long he’s out of action, it’s a serious problem for the Tigers. After an aggressive offseason, it was expected that they could contend for a postseason berth this year, with their rotation standing out as a potential strength. Unfortunately, a slow start has been compounded by a truly staggering numbers of injuries to their starting pitchers. E-Rod joins Matt Manning, Casey Mize, Tyler Alexander, Michael Pineda and Spencer Turnbull on the IL. Eduardo and Tarik Skubal are the only Tigers to have made more than five starts this season, with Skubal now the last man standing in terms of rotation mainstays on the year.
Due to that rash of injuries, the club has had to lean on its depth, giving MLB debuts to Alex Faedo, Beau Brieske and Joey Wentz already this year. Elvin Rodriguez also made his big league debut, though in relief, throwing 2 2/3 innings back on April 10. He’ll make his first start in the show tomorrow. Since that lone MLB outing, he’s made six appearances in Triple-A, five starts, throwing 22 2/3 innings with a 3.57 ERA. In that time, he’s got a 21.6% strikeout rate, 13.4% walk rate and 37.7% ground ball rate. That walk rate is certainly high but is actually uncharacteristic for him, as he’s never had a rate above 8.8% before, perhaps suggesting small sample noise.
The club’s record is currently 13-26, the worst in the American League, but it can’t be entirely blamed on pitching injury woes. The team-wide ERA of 3.67 is actually 12th in MLB, though advanced metrics are a bit less bullish. The real culprit has been the lineup, as the team as a whole is hitting .219/.282/.313 for a wRC+ of 77, a figure that places them dead last across the majors.