Eduardo Rodriguez and Matt Vierling hit the injured list

Bless You Boys

Well, the timing couldn’t have been much worse. With at least a few weeks left until reinforcements arrive off the injured list, the Detroit Tigers had to add two players to the list on Tuesday. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez was moved to the 15-day injured list with a pulley rupture of his left index finger. OF Matt Vierling was also moved to the 10-day injured list with lower back soreness.

Not ideal.

Rodriguez is currently expected to miss only two starts, with his injured list stint retroactively started on Monday. He apparently suffered the injury toward the end of his outing against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday. Rodriguez has been the lynchpin holding a beleaguered rotation together. He holds a 2.13 ERA, 3.17 FIP across 67 23 innings and is currently 13th in WAR among all starting pitchers according to FanGraphs version, fWAR.

In their places, the Tigers recalled Tyler Nevin, who plays 3B but has some experience playing corner outfield, and RHP Braden Bristo, acquired a month ago after he was released from the Tampa Bay Rays. Bristo has solid stuff but has struggled with control. Presumably his stint is just to give a little length before the next move required to fill Rodriguez’s rotation spot. Speculation on that now surrounds their most advanced pitching prospect, right-hander Reese Olson, fresh off a 10 strikeout performance last Friday. For the time being, Joey Wentz’s spot seems assured.

The Tigers might have considered recalling Nevin soon anyway due to the struggles of most of their right-handed bats of late. Andy Ibáñez’s hot streak ended abruptly, while Vierling and Jonathan Schoop have struggled most of the season to date. Even Jake Rogers and Eric Haase are running cool at the moment, particularly Rogers after a fairly hot start. Nevin isn’t exactly crushing the ball for Toledo, but he has been a consistent cog in their lineup.

As a bulwark for the outfield, the Tigers also made a trade on Tuesday, sending cash to the Chicago White Sox for veteran outfielder Jake Marisnick. Manager A.J. Hinch is well familiar with the light-hitting, 32-year-old outfielder from his years with the Houston Astros. Marisnick can handle center field, hits right-handed, and while the sample is small, has suddenly shown the best plate discipline of his career this season, albeit working mainly for the White Sox Triple-A affiliate, the Charlotte Knights. If he’s added to the 40-man and promoted, he’ll likely hit almost exclusively against lefties. He also retains the speed to rack up some stolen bases.

With players like Kerry Carpenter, Spencer Turnbull, Matt Manning, and likely even Tarik Skubal due to return to action in June, the next three weeks are going to be crucial to keeping the Tigers in the AL Central race until some help arrives, particularly for the rotation. Top position prospect Colt Keith, as well as Justyn-Henry Malloy, will likely make it to Detroit this summer, but the club has decided that Malloy isn’t quite ready yet. He’s struggled a bit more in recent weeks after a torrid start, but continues to get on base at a strong clip. Keith is just tearing up Double-A and looks about ready for promotion to Toledo in the next month or so.

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