Detroit Tigers say it’s ‘really good to see’ Michael Lorenzen throw no-hitter for Phillies

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez learned former teammate Michael Lorenzen was throwing a no-hitter in his second start since the Aug. 1 trade deadline during Wednesday’s 9-5 win over the Minnesota Twins.

Manager A.J. Hinch, the rest of the coaching staff and the position players couldn’t leave the Tigers’ dugout, but Rodriguez — knowing his current teammates had a sizable lead over the Twins — went to the clubhouse to watch Lorenzen’s final three innings.

“It means a lot to him,” Rodriguez said Thursday. “As soon as I heard Lorenzen was throwing a no-hitter, I came inside and watched the last three innings on my phone. It’s like, I was sitting in the dugout, focused on every pitch he was throwing. It was really good to see.”

WHEN THEY SIGNED HIM: Why Tigers see Michael Lorenzen as a starting pitcher with untapped potential

Lorenzen, now a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, recorded the final nine outs to complete his no-hitter against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. He threw a career-high 124 pitches for the most pitches in a no-hitter by a single pitcher since Mike Fiers tossed 131 pitches in 2019.

It marked the 14th no-hitter in Phillies history, the Phillies’ first no-hitter since Cole Hamels in July 2015, and the first Phillies no-hitter at Citizens Bank Park since Hall of Famer Roy Halladay in October 2010.

Lorenzen’s custom white Vans cleats, which he wore for his first-ever start in Philadelphia with the Phillies, are headed to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

“It was incredible,” Lorenzen said Wednesday. “Walking out for the seventh, eighth and ninth, man, these fans. I’ve never been part of an organization where fans are a part of the team. … They gave me that boost that I needed in the seventh, eighth and ninth. If you are feeling fatigued, you don’t feel it at all in front of these fans.”

The Tigers traded Lorenzen, a 31-year-old right-hander who becomes a free agent after this season, to the Phillies for 20-year-old infield prospect Hao-Yu Lee before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

“Congratulations,” Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson said Wednesday. “That’s a huge accomplishment in his career. He’s a great pitcher, and it’s really cool to see him still have success somewhere else.”

Lorenzen, selected to his first All-Star Game in July, has a 3.23 ERA with 32 walks and 93 strikeouts across 122⅔ innings in 20 starts with the Tigers (3.58 ERA in 18 starts) and Phillies (1.06 ERA in two starts).

He signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract with the Tigers in December 2022.

“Almost like a proud father,” Hinch said Thursday. “When he started talking about simplifying his approach and trusting (Phillies catcher) J.T. Realmuto to call pitches, there was a little small tear that came on my face. It was like, ‘We did it, we did it!’ That was fun to see.”

“I’ve let (Realmuto) call every single pitch that he’s called for the last two games,” said Lorenzen, who had four walks and five strikeouts. “For us to get on the same page like that, he’s never caught me before, and for me to not shake once in 17 innings, and for us to accomplish something like that, it’s incredible.”

Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris pursued Lorenzen in free agency because he recognized his untapped potential as a starting pitcher based on potential tweaks to his pitch usage and pitch mix.

Lorenzen needed to get out of his own way.

Here’s what Harris said in December: “He does a lot of the things that we value in this organization, but we think there’s more in there. We think he’s just scratching the surface as a starter. We think he can get better.”

Indeed, Lorenzen got a lot better.

The Tigers helped Lorenzen develop into a better starting pitcher by reducing his arsenal from seven pitches to five pitches, ditching his cutter and curveball. He throws his fastball and slider to both right-handed and left-handed hitters while attacking lefties with his changeup and righties with his sinker and sweeper.

Lorenzen threw those five pitch types throughout Wednesday’s no-hit performance against the Nationals: 42 four-seam fastballs (34%), 37 changeups (30%), 29 sliders (23%), 11 sinkers (9%) and five sweepers (4%).

“The example is perfect for him because he came here, wanted to get better, got better and got rewarded with the All-Star nod,” Hinch said, “and now, he’s pitching towards the playoffs. We want that pitching towards the playoffs part to be here in Detroit, but the overall commitment to making players better at this level is a prime example.

“When you sign here, or when you come up through our minor leagues, development at the major-league level is real, and it doesn’t have to be just for the young prospect who comes up. … When you have a success story like that with Michael, it just gives you more energy as a coach or as a staff member or as an organization to continue to preach that.”

Before the trade, Lorenzen and Rodriguez developed a new tradition for starting pitchers with the Tigers. Members of the rotation are expected to watch fellow starters throw pregame bullpens between starts.

It’s a way to support others in the group.

“That’s just builds the vibe,” Hinch said.

Rodriguez enjoyed having Lorenzen — a nine-year MLB veteran — as his teammate for most of the 2023 season, just like he enjoyed watching Wednesday’s no-hitter from the Tigers’ clubhouse.

“It feels like he was throwing it right here,” Rodriguez said. “That’s how it felt for me. I watched the last three innings, and I was pushing for him like I really was there, like I was seeing him in person. It was really good to see him do that.”

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

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