The Tigers and Jim Leyland are in an interesting spot. They have six starters right now, but because of their doubleheader yesterday and no day off until next Monday, they can essentially address the situation by avoiding it. Still, with Ryan Perry down in Toledo, they’re going to be a reliever short until they figure out what to do. The big question is, who should remain in the rotation and who should go.
Jeremy Bonderman’s debut yesterday was a flop. His velocity was way down (did he even touch 93?) and he was bounced for three home runs. This was a guy who struck out 202 batters just three years ago and he only punched one guy out last night. Granted, he hasn’t pitched at the major league level in over a year and these things take time but the Tigers are in first place and they’re going to be fighting for a playoff berth. They probably won’t be able to afford to carry an ineffective Bonderman for too long just to give him the time to build back his arm strength.
Dontrelle Willis has had the time to show us what he can do and so far, that hasn’t looked pretty either. Yeah, he had a couple of nice starts early but now he’s been roughed up and he’s getting another chance tonight. If he bombs, it’s safe to say he’ll be one of the guys who’s pulled from the rotation. Then the question is, what do we do with him?
There’s also the chance that both guys get pulled. If Bonderman continues to get pummelled and Willis keeps pitching like he has, then the Tigers have more decisions to make. Outside of one appearance, Nate Robertson has looked decent since returning from the disabled list so maybe he’ll get the spot. Zach Miner has been more up and down but he’s been throwing the longer outings already so he’d be more ready to step in. Or maybe it’s just time to make a deal and trade for a back of the rotation starter (it worked with Edwin Jackson) to fill the spot for the rest of the season.
These kind of decisions will have to be made sooner rather then later. The Tigers do have a nice four game lead but that only gets you so far. Stay tuned.