Left-handed reliever Tyler Alexander, arguably the Detroit Tigers‘ best pitcher in June, felt pain in his arm when he threw his 28th and final pitch in Sunday’s 14-9 win against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
The 28-year-old will now miss the rest of the 2023 season.
“Once he went through the tests, we were all down for him,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “He’s going to miss significant time. It’s unfortunate because he was throwing the best he had thrown all year.”
Before Tuesday’s game, the Tigers placed Alexander on the 60-day injured list, retroactive to Monday, with a left lat/shoulder strain. The roster move allowed the Tigers to reinstate left-hander Tarik Skubal, returning from left flexor tendon surgery, from the 60-day injured list.
Alexander posted a 4.50 ERA with five walks and 44 strikeouts over 44 innings in 25 games in the 2023 campaign. His 2.8% walk rate and 24.3% strikeout rate were the best marks of his five-year MLB career, spanning 120 games.
Once the inflammation subsides, Alexander will receive another MRI to determine the grade of his lat/shoulder strain.
He logged a 0.92 ERA across 19⅔ innings in nine games from May 29 through June 29. His performance in June earned him Tigers’ Pitcher of the Month honors. In Sunday’s outing, he allowed three runs on three hits with three strikeouts across 1⅓ innings.
Alexander said he felt a “pull” in his left arm.
“It’s very frustrating for him,” Hinch said. “It’s a tough loss.”
Alexander, who is under team control through the 2025 season, will earn $1.88 million by the end of the 2023 season. He will be eligible for salary arbitration again this offseason and next offseason.
He has a 4.38 ERA in his big-league career.
Next man up?
The Tigers have used Alexander (44 innings) more than any reliever on the roster, besides Rule 5 draft pick Mason Englert (48 innings). Somehow, the Tigers need to absorb his workload for the rest of the season.
There isn’t a specific pitcher who will fill his versatile role.
“Everybody still throws multiple innings, so that doesn’t change,” Hinch said. “It’ll be absorbed by somebody, whoever grabs the opportunity, pitches well, throws strikes, bounces back and does all the things Tyler had been doing for us. I would imagine a number of guys will try to step up.”
A few potential candidates include right-hander Beau Brieske, right-hander Alex Faedo and left-hander Joey Wentz. Brieske is stretched out to two innings as a reliever, while Faedo and Wentz are stretched out as starters.
Brieske has been on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo after suffering a right ulnar nerve entrapment. He has a 2.25 ERA with five walks and 11 strikeouts over 12 innings in 10 games with High-A West Michigan and Triple-A Toledo.
The 25-year-old must be activated from the 60-day injured list within 30 days of the start of his rehab assignment, which he began June 7. He could join the Tigers on Friday for the beginning of the three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Riley Greene begins rehab assignment
Center fielder Riley Greene (left fibula stress reaction) started his rehab assignment Monday with Triple-A Toledo.
Greene, who served as the designated hitter, went 0-for-4 with one strikeout. The 22-year-old lined into a double play — on a ball hit with a 98.3 mph exit velocity — in his first plate appearance.
“It was nice to see him,” Hinch said. “I got to watch it on TV.”
Although Greene reported to Comerica Park on Tuesday, he will return to the Mud Hens as the designated hitter for Wednesday’s game at Fifth Third Field in Toledo. It’s unclear when he will be cleared to play in the outfield.
Outfielder Akil Baddoo (right quad strain) is ahead of Greene in the timeline for his return to the Tigers. He has played two games for the Mud Hens and legged out a double in Monday’s game.
Baddoo, unlike Greene, has been cleared to play the outfield.
“The (rehab) program has been good,” Hinch said. “The response has been good. They’re not getting activated (Tuesday or Wednesday) because they’ve got more to do, but it is good to get those guys playing.”
Other injury updates
Faedo completed 3⅓ innings Sunday in his first rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo. The 27-year-old has recovered from right middle finger discomfort — which led to a doctor removing part of his nail — and needs to build his pitch volume.
He allowed four runs on six hits and one walk with two strikeouts, throwing 40 of 57 pitches for strikes. He threw 29 fastballs, 17 sliders and 11 changeups. His fastball averaging 92.9 mph; his slider generated seven of his 10 whiffs.
Faedo will throw a bullpen session Wednesday.
Right-handed reliever Trey Wingenter (right shoulder tendinitis) must be activated from the 60-day injured list by July 10.
The 29-year-old has struggled throughout his rehab assignment. He has a 13.50 ERA with eight walks and eight strikeouts across 7⅓ innings in nine games with Low-A Lakeland and Triple-A Toledo.
Wingenter has two minor-league options remaining, so the Tigers could activate him from the injured list and option him to the Mud Hens.
Right-hander Spencer Turnbull (neck discomfort) will throw his next bullpen session Wednesday and could face live hitters soon. Right-handed reliever Will Vest (right lower leg strain) is playing catch.
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