Detroit Tigers place top reliever Jason Foley on bereavement list, call up Trey Wingenter

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Tigers placed right-handed reliever Jason Foley on the bereavement list before Wednesday’s game against the Minnesota Twins and called up Trey Wingenter, another right-handed reliever, from Triple-A Toledo.

When a player is on the bereavement list, he must miss a minimum of three games and can miss up to seven games. Foley is expected to return to the Tigers during the upcoming three-game series (Friday-Sunday) against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

His grandmother died recently.

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The 27-year-old won’t play for the Tigers on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, covering the minimum three-game absence. That means the Tigers will be without their most consistent member of the bullpen until at least Saturday.

Foley has a 2.16 ERA with 13 walks (6.5% walk rate) and 46 strikeouts (22.9% strikeout rate) over 50 innings in 50 appearances. His presence has helped the Tigers manage the struggles of right-handed reliever Alex Lange — who has walked three batters in each of his past three outings — over the past two months.

Without Foley, and without Lange at his best, the Tigers’ bullpen will be tested in high-leverage situations over the next three games.

“How about we win by five runs and lose the closer role altogether?” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “Yeah, to answer your question, we’re going to look at the game from the beginning all the way through and manage accordingly. You can go into a game thinking about who’s going to get the last three outs and lose somewhere between one and 24 outs if you’re not careful.”

Left-hander Tyler Holton, who has a 1.91 ERA in 56⅔ innings, could shift into a high-leverage role if the Tigers control a lead in the late innings. He has thrown just 17 of his 56⅔ innings in the eighth and ninth innings.

Right-handers José Cisnero (3.92 ERA in 47 games) and Beau Brieske (2.45 ERA in nine games) could slot into high-leverage roles, as well.

Brieske, who picked up his first career save Saturday in relief of a struggling Lange, throws a 97 mph four-seam fastball with a 35% whiff rate from his sinker (to right-handed hitters) and 31.3% whiff rate on his changeup (to left-handed hitters).

“It will be an unfamiliar spot for somebody,” Hinch said, “either in the leverage role in the middle of the game to the bridge to the end or the guy that’s actually getting the last three outs. I think what we’ve learned, or hopefully what we’re learning, is that there’s a lot of different paths to get to the end of the game. Just because it’s uncomfortable for us doesn’t mean it’s uncomfortable for the players. They can go get outs.”

Shortstop Javier Báez, mourning the death of his grandfather, will likely leave the Tigers on Sunday and be placed on the bereavement list before Tuesday’s game against the Twins at Target Field, with the Tigers having Monday off.

Replacing Foley

Taking Foley’s roster spot, Wingenter — who signed a minor-league contract in the offseason — has bounced back and forth between the Tigers and Triple-A Toledo since the end of his rehab assignment July 9.

The 29-year-old was optioned to the Mud Hens after completing his rehab assignment in return from right shoulder tendinitis.

“He’s handled that part great,” Hinch said. “He’s probably tired of us telling him, ‘When you’re in the zone, you’re really good. When you’re out of the zone, you’re not.’ That’s how it’s been for him virtually his whole career.”

MORE ABOUT TREY: Trey Wingenter returns to Tigers with second chance to prove health and command

Wingenter pitched for the Tigers on July 27 as the 27th player for the doubleheader against the Los Angeles Angels. He also pitched Aug. 1 against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays as a member of the 26-man roster.

The Tigers optioned him to Triple-A Toledo on Saturday, only for Wingenter to return Wednesday as a product of Foley’s placement on the bereavement list.

Wingenter has a 6.48 ERA with three walks and 10 strikeouts over 8⅓ innings in nine games with the Tigers, plus an 8.56 ERA with eight walks and 13 strikeouts over 13⅔ innings in 14 games with the Mud Hens.

He made the Tigers’ Opening Day roster out of spring training.

“He’s mature, and he’ll take any opportunity,” Hinch said. “He’s not naive to the fact that he needs to get an opportunity, take advantage of it and be the guy that we keep as opposed to the guy that we shuttle. He will do that inside the strike zone if he continues to throw strikes, attack hitters and get into leverage.”

Releasing players

The Tigers released left-handed reliever Miguel Del Pozo and right-handed reliever Kervin Castro.

Both pitchers underwent Tommy John surgery in 2023.

Del Pozo hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2021 with the Tigers, and in parts of three MLB seasons, he has a 9.82 ERA with 18 walks and 17 strikeouts across 18⅓ innings in 27 games out of the bullpen. The Tigers signed Castro to a minor-league contract before this season.

Prospect moves up

The Tigers promoted right-hander Keider Montero, a 23-year-old starting pitcher, to Triple-A Toledo.

He is scheduled to start Thursday for the Mud Hens.

Montero, known for his high-spin breaking ball, began his 2023 campaign with High-A West Michigan, and after a 2.81 ERA over 16 innings in four starts, he advanced to Double-A Erie.

For the SeaWolves, Montero posted a 4.93 ERA with 31 walks and 91 strikeouts over 69⅓ innings in 15 starts.

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

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