Faedo's only focus is on what he can control

March 23rd, 2024

LAKELAND, Fla. -- After a slew of dominant two-inning performances, Tigers right-hander was tested with a third Saturday for the first time this Spring Training. He allowed a pair of one-out ground-ball singles to the Yankees in the sixth, but he kept up his aggressive mentality before Joey Wentz finished the inning.

Faedo stayed in the dugout for the rest of Wentz’s performance. He didn’t head back to the clubhouse until the Tigers' 11-6 split-squad win at Joker Marchant Stadium was nearly over, long after he had exited. It’s a reflection of where his mind is focused as Detroit weighs his best fit going into the season, which starts Thursday against the White Sox in Chicago.

“The decisions aren't up to me,” Faedo said afterward. “I'm rooting for every guy on our team that's in the same situation that I am in. But [I'm] really trying not to overthink it.”

Faedo and Wentz have been teammates since their days with Double-A Erie in 2019, part of a SeaWolves rotation that included Tarik Skubal, Casey Mize and Matt Manning. While Mize found out Friday that he had made Detroit’s rotation, Manning was optioned to Triple-A Toledo in favor of Reese Olson.

“It stinks, but at the same time it's great for Reese and for Casey,” Faedo said. “They threw the crap out of the ball. It was really impressive to see Casey throw the ball so well after those couple years off, because it was kind of a similar thing that I went through. So I was really proud and happy for him to really earn that spot. It wasn't given to him at all. Talked to Matt a lot since [the move], and he's got a really good approach to everything and he's going to be better from it. He'll be up, and whenever his number's called again, he'll be better.”

Faedo could end up joining Manning in the Mud Hens' rotation, or he could make Detroit’s bullpen and pitch in relief of Mize. Through all the competition on a roster that’s becoming tougher to crack, Faedo is keeping up the positive vibes, focusing on his own pitching.

Faedo's pitching has largely been outstanding, some of the best progression of the Tigers' camp. Since allowing two runs in as many innings in his Grapefruit League opener Feb. 25, Faedo has tossed 11 1/3 scoreless innings -- 2 1/3 of them Saturday -- on five hits with two walks and 14 strikeouts. His slider remains his primary out pitch, but his retinkered changeup has provided a strong complement.

“He’s very reliable with strike sliders. He’s very reliable with throwing strikes,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “And he competes a ton. I was happy with his day. We wanted to push his volume up.”

Ironically, that three-pitch mix plays strong enough that it could push Faedo toward being stretched out to start in Toledo and wait for a need with Detroit. Or it could push him to a more immediate role protecting leads in relief.

“I feel good about what I've done,” Faedo said. “I feel good about how my body feels. I feel like I'm now hitting a stride. I was able to have the offseason that turned into me having a good spring, and I feel like I'm trending up. I feel like I'll be better tomorrow. I'll be better just moving forward, year after year.”

Wentz wears the homer
When Caleb Durbin sent a Joey Wentz cutter to the left-field berm Saturday, it marked the fourth consecutive outing in which Wentz allowed a home run. In the previous three, the homer was the only baserunner he allowed, in part because he struck out nine batters over six innings in those outings. On Saturday, he yielded another hit and a walk after the homer but struck out three, including with a strong four-seam fastball he has been working on all camp.

“I think his stuff has ticked up as the spring has gone,” Hinch said. “He hasn’t backed down from the strike zone, either.”

If Wentz makes the Tigers' roster, it will be in relief. He’s out of Minor League options and would likely be claimed off waivers if designated for assignment.

Quick hits
• Miguel Díaz, also out of options and fighting for a bullpen spot, got a four-out save against the Yankees with one walk and two strikeouts.

• Jake Rogers has a two-game homer streak after going deep in Saturday’s other split-squad win, 10-7 over the Blue Jays at TD Ballpark.