Detroit Tigers recall starter Joey Wentz after 12-strikeout performance in Triple-A Toledo

Detroit Free Press

MIAMI — Detroit Tigers left-hander Joey Wentz didn’t start Saturday, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t pitch.

The Tigers recalled Wentz from Triple-A Toledo, optioning right-handed reliever Trey Wingenter to clear space on the roster, before Saturday’s game against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot Park.

“We’ll see where the game takes us,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said prior to Saturday’s action. “If we can bottle up what Joey did in his last start, that will work perfectly up here. He threw strikes, got to leverage, threw put away pitches, swing and miss and a little bit of chase in there. He’ll get an opportunity.”

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Right-handed reliever Beau Brieske was named the Tigers’ starter for Saturday in an opener role against the Marlins. Wentz, who last pitched for the Tigers on June 28, entered in the third inning with a 3-0 lead, expecting a starter-like workload out of the bullpen to eat innings.

The Tigers previously demoted the 25-year-old to Triple-A Toledo because of his 6.78 ERA (with 31 walks and 66 strikeouts) across 71⅔ innings in 16 games, in which he started 15 of those games.

“Joey can be a really good first-pitch strike thrower and create some opportunities to use his weapons,” Hinch said. “When he gets fastball happy, and when he falls behind, he can get into a lot of trouble.”

Wentz posted a 4.00 ERA with nine walks and 26 strikeouts over 18 innings in four starts for the Mud Hens. The positive results, especially in his latest start, opened the door for his return to the Tigers.

On July 21, Wentz allowed two runs on six hits and one walk with a whopping 12 strikeouts in 5⅔ innings. He generated 23 whiffs with 11 fastballs, seven cutters, two changeups and three curveballs.

Wentz threw 64 of 96 pitches for strikes.

“I think getting into leverage was important,” Hinch said.

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The Tigers will likely keep Wentz in the big leagues through the trade deadline, depending on his performance. There will be two spots in the rotation by 6 p.m. Tuesday if the Tigers trade right-hander Michael Lorenzen and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez.

Right-hander Alex Faedo, who can’t be recalled from the Mud Hens until Thursday at the earliest, should be another candidate to fill a spot in the starting rotation following Tuesday’s deadline.

“This is going to be a free-swinging team,” Hinch said of the Marlins. “They’re ready to hit, and they’re predominately right-handed guys. They only have two left-handed guys in there. That same approach has to be applied at this level for him to have similar results.”

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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