AL Central Notes: Faedo, Robert, Varland, Bieber

MLB Trade Rumors

The Tigers restructured their rotation recently, with the club’s current starting five being left-handers Eduardo Rodriguez, Tarik Skubal and Joey Wentz alongside right-handers Matt Manning and Reese Olson. That leaves right-hander Alex Faedo as the odd man out, and as manager AJ Hinch confirmed to reporters (including Evan Woodbery of MLive) recently that Faedo would be moving to the bullpen. Faedo received his first relief assignment last night, striking out one on 13 pitches in a single inning of work.

While Faedo was used as a single-inning reliever last night, Hinch indicated that his longer-term role for the Tigers going forward will be as a multi-inning reliever. Woodbery relays that “scheduled” relief appearances of two or three innings are one possibility for Faedo, as well as piggyback starts alongside Wentz. That duo would be a somewhat surprising combination, considering Faedo’s reverse splits this year; left-handed batters have slashed just .143/.209/.333 in 115 plate appearances against him, while righties have hit a far more impressive .266/.322/.505 in 118 trips to the plate.

Overall this season, Faedo has posted a 4.89 ERA and 5.03 FIP in 57 innings of work in the majors. While he showed promise in his final five starts with the big league club, posting a 2.73 ERA over that timeframe, his control left plenty to be desired over those appearances, with a 12% walk rate against a strikeout rate of just 17.5%. Despite those struggles, Hinch suggested that it was possible Faedo could return to the rotation for a start or two at some point before the end of the season.

More from the AL Central…

  • White Sox center fielder Luis Robert Jr. was scratched from yesterday’s lineup against Detroit due to cramping in his right quad. That same issue led Chicago to hold Robert out of the lineup today as well, with MLB.com indicating that Robert could return to game action as soon as tomorrow. That being said, the club plans to exercise caution regarding the health of their superstar outfielder. In a dismal season on the south side of Chicago, Robert has been a major bright spot, slashing .272/.324/.560 with 35 home runs and 17 stolen bases alongside elite defense in center field. Oscar Colas has taken over for Robert in center field while he’s been out of the lineup.
  • The Twins are expected to recall right-hander Louie Varland tomorrow, according to the Star Tribune’s Phil Miller. Miller adds that Varland is expecting to join Minnesota as a member of the bullpen, a role which is fairly unfamiliar for the 25-year-old hurler. Out of 78 professional games Varland has played since being drafted in 2019, he has started all but six of them, including all 15 of his appearances in the majors, where he sports a career 4.83 ERA and 5.12 FIP after allowing 17 runs in 15 innings across his three most recent big league starts back in June. Varland is expected to take the roster spot of right-hander Cole Sands, who Miller indicates was optioned after tonight’s game against the Rangers.
  • Guardians ace Shane Bieber is making progress in his rehab from right elbow inflammation, as MLB.com relays that the right-hander has advanced to throwing all of his pitches during bullpen sessions. As Terry Francona told reporters, if Bieber’s next bullpen goes well, he’ll progress to facing live hitters. The next logical progression after that would be a rehab assignment as Bieber builds back up to a starter’s workload. Bieber will first be eligible to be activated from the 60-day injured list on September 10, but it seems all but assured that Bieber will need longer than the minimum 60 days before returning at this point. That said, the 28-year-old seems to be on pace to return before the end of the season barring any setbacks. Prior to his injury, 2023 was shaping up to be a down season for Bieber, who posted a 3.77 ERA and 4.11 FIP across 19 starts.

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