Tigers Notes: Maeda, Manning, Hopkins, Garko

MLB Trade Rumors

Kenta Maeda made his return to the Tigers rotation this evening. Detroit reinstated the veteran right-hander from the 15-day injured list, optioning Matt Manning to Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move. Maeda took the ball against the Blue Jays, working five scoreless innings.

Maeda was down for the minimal two weeks after battling an illness. Signed to a two-year free agent deal last offseason, he has struggled to a 5.80 ERA over his first eight starts. His 15.8% strikeout rate is well down from the 27.3% mark he managed during his final season with the Twins. He has also surrendered nine homers over 35 2/3 innings, a lofty 2.27 longballs per nine. Most of the damage has been concentrated over three bad starts. Maeda has given up at least six runs in a trio of outings and no more than three runs in his other five starts.

Despite Maeda’s inconsistency, Detroit has gotten generally solid rotation work. Tarik SkubalReese Olson and Jack Flaherty have been anywhere from solid to excellent. Casey Mize has a more pedestrian 4.57 ERA through nine outings. Manning has been the clear #6 option on the depth chart, starting five games around a trio of stints in the minors. He has only managed a 4.88 ERA over five MLB appearances but has a 3.79 mark with a huge 31.6% strikeout rate in 19 Triple-A innings.

While Maeda’s return is the bigger injury news for the Tigers, they did lose a couple depth players this week. The team informed reporters (including Evan Woodbery of MLive) that minor league reliever Blair Calvo and outfielder TJ Hopkins are out for the season. Both players recently underwent surgery to repair labrum tears in their right shoulders.

Calvo and Hopkins each made their big league debuts in 2023, though both players have subsequently been outrighted from the 40-man roster. Calvo made one MLB appearance for the Rockies and had only pitched twice for Detroit’s Double-A affiliate. Hopkins, whom the Tigers claimed off waivers from the Giants in February, appeared in 25 big league contests for the Reds last year. He’d been hitting .190/.326/.329 in Double-A.

The Tigers also announced some off-field news this afternoon. Detroit promoted Ryan Garko from vice president of player development to assistant general manager. The former big league first baseman has worked with the Tigers’ farm system since he was hired in September 2021. He joins Sam Menzin, Jay Sartori and Rob Metzler as assistant GMs. They’re behind baseball operations president Scott Harris and first-year general manager Jeff Greenberg in the front office hierarchy.

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