Detroit — It doesn’t matter the sport or the time of year, the playoffs are different.
Sure, the regular season is fun and the games matter. But once you get into the postseason, the games decide championships.
Which is why these next couple weeks could be a great test and education for pitcher Jackson Jobe.
The Tigers promoted Jobe, 21, the team’s 2021 first-round pick (third overall) earlier in the week to Double-A Erie. The SeaWolves have qualified for the playoffs beginning Tuesday. Jobe is expected to get the start Sunday in Erie, as it concludes its regular season.
Jobe dominated at Single-A West Michigan, striking out 54 and walking only three in 40 innings while posting a 3.60 ERA in eight starts.
“When you pitch with everything on the line, it’s hard to simulate that,” manager AJ Hinch said Thursday. “You want to win every game and compete, and there’s something on the line. But when the scoreboard comes down to just a few teams in your league that are playing, it’s a little bit different, a bit more enhanced.
“Jackson moved up a level, too, so it’s even more important for him. It’s just different, the playoffs are far different. That’s where the fun is, where the energy boost comes from, and it’s the same way for the minor leagues.”
Jobe was sidelined for several months with lumbar spine inflammation. But instead of missing an important season of development, Jobe has been able to make 14 starts between Lakeland and West Michigan and now could get several starts in Erie.
The Tigers made several other promotions throughout the minor league system, with the season winding down.
“It’s awesome,” Hinch said. “As a player you should take it as a signal that your organization is noticing what you’re doing. (And) the playoffs, that’s another experience from an intensity standpoint, even in the minor leagues. It will be some of his most intense starts, and that’s awesome.”
The Tigers’ season ends Oct. 1, but that may not be the end for pitcher Casey Mize.
Recovering from Tommy John surgery and having missed the entire season, Mize is likely to keep throwing and rehabilitating until he transitions to a normal offseason.
“The only discouraging part for Casey is the calendar,” said Hinch, noting Mize is eager to get into a game situation. “I can see him doing a lot of different things down the stretch here. Reintroducing live BPs (batting practice) is hopefully on the docket, and then getting built up the best he can even if it leads into the offseason.
“We’re thrilled with the way his year has went and what he has been able to reestablish delivery-wise, health-wise and recovery-wise. It’s just the games are beginning to dwindle away for him.”
The possibility of Mize going to the instructional league after the season, said Hinch, hasn’t yet been decided.
Around the horn
After not starting Thursday, Miguel Cabrera will get starts on Friday and Saturday in Los Angeles, Hinch said.
… Pitcher Spencer Turnbull was scheduled to get the start Thursday evening at Triple-A Toledo. It would be Turnbull’s first start for the Mud Hens since he was optioned in May. Turnbull had a 7.26 ERA in seven starts with the Tigers.
Turnbull missed the 2022 season because of Tommy John surgery.
“We’re hoping he gets on the mound,” Hinch said. “He threw a bullpen (session) and things are getting better for him.”
… Hinch isn’t sure of his pitching plans for Sunday against the Angels, other than Joey Wentz will throw some innings.
“We’ll end up pitching Wentz in some capacity,” Hinch said. “I don’t know if he’ll start. We might do an opener, maybe two openers and get to Joey in the middle part of the game, but we’ll determine that based on the next three games and who is available.”
On deck: Angels
▶ Series: Three games at Angel Stadium, Anaheim, California
▶ First pitch: Friday — 9:38 p.m.; Saturday — 9:07 p.m.; Sunday – 4:07 p.m.
▶ TV/radio: Friday-Saturday — BSD/97.1; Sunday — BSD/950
▶ Probables: Friday — LHP Tarik Skubal (5-3, 3.47) vs. RHP Griffin Canning (7-6, 4.34); Saturday — RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long (1-0, 3.60) vs. LHP Tyler Anderson (6-6, 5.36); Sunday — TBD vs. LHP Reid Detmers (3-10, 4.77)
▶ Skubal, Tigers: Skubal has pitched 12 innings in two September starts, allowing seven hits and two earned runs with three walks and 16 strikeouts. Skubal shut out the White Sox on Saturday, striking out nine over five innings in a victory.
▶ Canning, Angels: The Angels have lost Canning’s last three starts and four of his last five games. In a 6-3 loss last week to Cleveland, Canning allowed eight hits and three earned runs in 5⅓ innings.