Status report: Checking in on trio of Tigers pitchers — Manning, Wisler, Wentz

Detroit News

Detroit — Matt Manning was in good spirits Saturday morning.

“I feel really good,” he said after his daily catch-play session. “The last couple of days it’s felt the best.”

Manning, the Tigers’ right-handed starting pitcher, is on the 60-day injured list recovering from a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot. Watching him bounce around the clubhouse, though, you wouldn’t know he was hurt.

“I feel ready right now,” he said.

The next big date for Manning is May 23. That’s when, barring any setback, the doctors are expected to clear him to start throwing off the mound.

“They want to wait until the six-week mark before I get off the mound,” he said. “Just because that’s how long it takes the bone to heal, in (the doctor’s) opinion, just to be safe.”

Since he’s continued to throw and do some cardio work, Manning is hopeful his return-to-play progression will be swift. He’s eligible to come off the IL on June 11.

In the wings

The Tigers’ bullpen continues to be an area of strength. And with off days Monday and Thursday next week, there isn’t likely to be any need for a fresh arm.

Still, it’s a comfort to manager AJ Hinch to know he has fresh-arm options, veteran fresh-arm options, at Triple-A Toledo.

Namely, 30-year-old right-hander Matt Wisler. After a disastrous spring, Wisler has regained form. He’s allowed one run, a solo homer, in 17 innings with 19 strikeouts and five walks.

“I talk about Wis a lot,” said Hinch, who before the game Saturday had a phone conversation with Mud Hens manager Anthony Iapoce about Wisler. “Watching him this spring versus the adjustments he’s made going into the season, it looks like his slider has come around. He’s limiting damage, he’s limiting hard contact, he’s getting some swing-and-miss.

“He’s clearly been one of the better relievers in Triple-A, just waiting for his opportunity.”

Wisler, once a mainstay in the Rays’ bullpen, has eight seasons of big-league experience. He has an elite slider, which he throws more than 90% of the time and makes him a tough matchup for left-handed hitters.

Lefties this season are 4-for-30 against him with 10 strikeouts.

“I applaud him for the adjustments he’s made as a veteran pitcher,” Hinch said. “He used to have a sort of slow delivery and he liked to dance around the strike zone. He rarely threw the ball in the strike zone. He’s still getting a lot of chase, which you would expect from a guy who is predominantly breaking ball. But it’s encouraging to see his performance now as an option for us at some point.”

Wisler hasn’t allowed a run in his last 11 outings, holding hitters to a .185 average with 17 strikeouts and five walks.

Fixing it

Lefty Joey Wentz will get the start for the Tigers in the series finale Sunday and you can bet the Mariners will load their lineup with right-handed hitters.

As Wentz is acutely aware, righties have done most of the damage against him so far this season. They are hitting .267 against him, slugging .515. All seven homers Wentz has given up have been to right-handed hitters.

The culprit, at least statistically, has been his four-seam fastball. Righties are hitting .326 off his fastball, slugging .698. Five of those home runs have been hit off his fastball.

“Just leaving too many fastballs in hittable places,” Wentz said. “Maybe it’s a usage situation, too, where maybe I’m throwing the fastball too much. But it’s more about location and command.”

Wentz has good weapons against right-handed hitters. They are just 3-for-22 against his changeup, with a 36.6% swing-and-miss rate. His cutter, too, has been effective (.240). But, too often, he isn’t getting to those pitches.

“I still like my fastball,” he said. “I’m not in a position where I don’t want to throw it. I want to throw it. Obviously I’ve given up some homers. Just too many hitter’s counts and too many in the middle (of the plate).”

Mariners at Tigers

First pitch: 1:40 p.m. Sunday, Comerica Park, Detroit

TV/radio: BSD/97.1


RHP Logan Gilbert (1-2, 3.78), Mariners: He took a perfect game into the seventh inning in his last start against Texas. He ended up with 10 strikeouts in 6⅔ innings. On the season, he’s limiting hitters to a .216 average, his WHIP is under 1.0 and he has a 31.5% strikeout rate and a 5% walk rate. He’s 6-foot-6 and has 7.7 feet of extension, which makes his 95-mph fastball seem firmer. He also has plus secondary pitches — slider, curve, split.

LHP Joey Wentz (1-3, 6.09), Tigers: Most of the damage against him, as you would expect, is being done by right-handed hitters — .267 average with a .515 slug. All seven homers against him were hit by righties. His four-seam fastball seems to be the culprit here. Righties are hitting it at a .326 clip with a .698 slug.

Twitter: @cmccosky

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