The Detroit Tigers have been picking up the pieces all season.
The offense is primarily responsible for the 38-57 record, but the starting rotation has been in shambles throughout the year due to injuries. Right-hander Michael Pineda suffered the latest injury, as his elbow tightened up and forced his exit from Saturday’s loss to the Minnesota Twins.
Swingman left-hander Tyler Alexander, who began the season in the rotation but has most recently worked out of the bullpen, will take Pineda’s spot on a start-by-start basis. He is scheduled to start Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre.
“There’s some ways to absorb this with multiple guys over the next couple times through the rotation,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said, “but Tyler will get the first assignment in a four to five inning stint in Toronto.”
The Tigers placed Pineda on the 15-day injured list before Sunday’s game.
“I know he’s not going to make his next start or two,” Hinch said.
When the injury happened Saturday, the Tigers were left with two healthy starters on the active roster: Tarik Skubal and Drew Hutchison. A third starter, right-hander Rony García, was activated from the injured list and started Sunday.
Now, Alexander is the fourth starter.
“He takes the ball, he throws strikes, he’s unafraid,” Hinch said. “He continues to challenge hitters. He’s not perfect. He’ll make his fair share of mistakes like we all do, but when that does happen, he comes right back at you.”
Alexander owns a 4.05 ERA with eight walks and 18 strikeouts across 33⅓ innings in 14 games (four starts) this season. Since returning from the injured list in mid-June, the 28-year-old has a 1.29 ERA with three walks and nine strikeouts in 21 innings.
In 2021, Alexander started 15 of 41 games. His best start was Aug. 20 at the Rogers Centre, in which he dominated the Blue Jays with seven innings of one-run ball. He had a 3.38 ERA as a starter last season.
Another pitcher — right-hander Matt Manning — could help the Tigers work around Pineda’s absence. He will start Wednesday for Triple-A Toledo, and if all goes as planned, it might be his final rehab outing before joining the Tigers.
FINALLY, A CONVERSATION: Eduardo Rodriguez and Tigers connect after one month of silence
José Cisnero returns from family emergency
Right-handed reliever José Cisnero made his season debut in Thursday’s doubleheader against the Oakland Athletics. He returned from the injured list before the All-Star break but didn’t pitch until Thursday because of a death in his wife’s immediate family.
The Tigers placed Cisnero on the bereavement list July 15.
“It’s been emotionally difficult for me and most importantly for my wife,” Cisnero said, with Tigers bilingual media coordinator Carlos Guillen interpreting. “I have to be in contact with her on a daily basis now that I’m with the team and she’s away. This has been some tough moments for us as a family.”
On Thursday, Cisnero threw 20 pitches and completed a scoreless eighth inning in Game 2 of the doubleheader. The 33-year-old was a key member of the bullpen last season, posting a 3.65 ERA with 31 walks and 62 strikeouts in 61⅔ innings.
He missed the first half of the season with a right shoulder injury and a swollen Achilles tendon.
“You have to control whatever you can control,” Cisnero said. “I worked very hard to be back with the team, and some stuff happened at home that kept me away. But I’m doing my best. It’s part of the process because this is an individual sport. You have to put everything that is out of the field out of the field and focus on what’s on the field.”
The status of Beau Brieske
Coming out of the All-Star break, the Tigers put right-hander Beau Brieske on the 15-day injured list with right forearm soreness. The roster move allowed the Tigers to reinstate Cisnero from the bereavement list without optioning a player to the minor leagues.
But Brieske feels healthy and is ready to pitch.
He is eligible to return from the injured list in early August.
“He’s still throwing and feeling no pain,” Hinch said. “If they’d let us put ‘fatigue’ on there, that’s truthfully what he’s feeling the most, but there’s no mechanism for us to say fatigue in the injury protocol.”
Brieske hasn’t pitched since July 12. He was supposed to make a three-inning start July 17, but the Tigers scratched him for a bullpen-only game. Ultimately, the game was postponed due to rain at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
The 24-year-old has a 4.19 ERA with 25 walks and 54 strikeouts over 81⅔ innings in 15 starts for the Tigers, plus 10 innings in two starts for Toledo. He pitched a career-high 106⅔ innings in the minors last season.
As Brieske approaches a new career-high for innings, the Tigers are restricting his workload and closely monitoring his health with the goal of letting him pitch through September. That seems to be the main reason for his first-ever stint on the big-league injured list.
Signing players from MLB draft
The Tigers have signed 11 of their 19 picks from the 2022 MLB draft, the team announced.
These 11 players signed their contracts: shortstop Peyton Graham (second round), right-hander Troy Melton (fourth round), third baseman Luke Gold (fifth round), shortstop Danny Serretti (sixth round), outfielder Seth Stephenson (seventh round), left-hander Jake Miller (eighth round), first baseman Andrew Jenkins (ninth round), right-hander Trevin Michael (10th round), left-hander Joseph Miller (11th round), right-hander Patrick Pridgen (15th round) and right-hander Quinn Gudaitis (16th round).
Eight players have yet to sign: second baseman Jace Jung (first round), right-hander Cole Stupp (12th round), outfielder Dom Johnson (13th round), left-hander Joe Adametz (14th round), right-hander Cole Patten (17th round), left-hander Chris Williams Jr. (18th round), right-hander Albert Oliva (19th round) and right-hander Drew Conover (20th round).