DETROIT -- The Tigers still haven’t announced their starting pitcher for Sunday’s series finale against the Reds. But manager Ron Gardenhire isn’t tempering the anticipation it could be top prospect Casey Mize’s Major League debut.
“I think you guys kind of have a pretty good feeling about it,” Gardenhire said with a smile Saturday morning. “We haven’t made an announcement yet.”
That announcement could come after Saturday’s game.
Mize has been working out at the Tigers’ alternate training site in Toledo, Ohio, after being optioned out at the end of an impressive Summer Camp. Pitchers have been to able to work in intrasquad games down there, with coaches helping out to fill rosters.
So why the big mystery? The Tigers have two reasons to wait on an announcement. First, there’s an 80 percent chance of rain on Sunday, though the forecast calls for that chance to lessen from thunderstorms in the morning to occasional showers in the afternoon.
The second reason to wait is the simple uncertainty of baseball right now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As recent postponements around the Marlins and Cardinals show, any team could have its schedule put on hold if test results suggest a potential outbreak around a club.
The Tigers are scheduled to play a home-and-home series with the Cardinals next week, with games scheduled for Monday and Tuesday at Comerica Park, followed by games Wednesday and Thursday at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
“We’re on a day-to-day basis here,” Gardenhire said. “We have to make sure everything’s OK before we make that announcement for tomorrow. Maybe [general manager] Al [Avila] will make it later on. Who knows? Ask him.
“We talk about it, and we’ve got a good plan.”
Castellanos praises Tigers’ camaraderie
One year to the day after Nick Castellanos was traded from the Tigers to the Cubs, he played his first game as a visiting player at Comerica Park on Friday. He had praise for the Tigers when asked after the game if they might be better than they get credit for being.
“Their camaraderie is second-to-none. That’s extremely important on a team that wins,” Castellanos told Reds reporters. “All of those guys have been in the trenches now for a couple of years. When you’re in the trenches together and you’ve got to lean on one another, that builds character on a team. Eventually, I think, that is a good recipe for battling each and every night.”
Castellanos was a Tiger for all but the final two months of last year’s 114-loss season.
“You lose 114 games and you try to find a silver lining in the middle of that,” Gardenhire said. “Some guys gained experience, they learned, and they learned to trust each other. Because when you’re going through a season like that, you have to find ways to stick together, and I thought our guys did a really nice job of playing hard all year and had each other’s back. And that’s a growing experience in itself when you have each other’s back going through that, because it can turn ugly.
“It’s not fun for anybody involved, but honestly, I didn’t feel that bad about it, because I knew they gave us everything they had.”
There is a W in Turnbull
Spencer Turnbull was putting together an early resume for the American League Rookie of the Year Award consideration when he beat the Braves on May 31, 2019. With one earned run over six innings in Atlanta, he improved to 3-4 and lowered his ERA to 2.84.
Turnbull had some hard-luck games in those four losses. But nobody would’ve imagined he’d go without a win in his next 19 starts, setting a Tigers franchise record.
Turnbull went 0-13 in that stretch, despite recording 90 strikeouts over 86 2/3 innings. He said it never weighed on him.
“I felt like I pitched some good games the second half of the year, just didn’t up the actual win stat,” Turnbull said. “I really don’t care for that stat at all, a very skewed stat in my opinion, the least important stat for me as a pitcher. There are many other stats that I value a lot more. I don’t think it’s worthless, but it’s definitely not high up on the totem pole for me. Team wins, it’s a totally different situation.”
Asked if he felt like the winless streak got into Turnbull’s head, Gardenhire smiled.
“That’s a place you really don’t want to be, in his head,” Gardenhire said. “He’s a different cat. He’s a lot of fun. But I try not to get into his head. Don’t do it, because you can get lost in there. He goes a lot of different routes.”