Turnbull (forearm) to IL; Tigers mull next step

June 5th, 2021

CHICAGO -- The Tigers wasted little time putting on the 10-day injured list, doing so Saturday morning to add some much-needed pitching depth after using six relievers Friday night and missing another with fatigue.

No further diagnosis was available as of Saturday morning on Turnbull, who left his start Friday after four innings with what has been classified as right forearm tightness. Manager A.J. Hinch said Friday night that the initial diagnosis was that the tightness was muscular in nature rather than a ligament issue, which would be a good sign. But the Tigers know enough to realize he would miss at least one turn in the rotation under the best-case scenarios.

What’s next?

Turnbull saw doctors in Chicago on Saturday morning, and he’ll see team doctors in Detroit after that. He could also seek additional opinion depending on the initial exams.

Hinch said Turnbull felt the tightness pop up in his final batter of the fourth inning, a 12-pitch battle with Yermín Mercedes. Turnbull had good velocity for the entire at-bat, throwing eight fastballs and sinkers between 95 and 97 mph, before finally striking out Mercedes on a 95 mph fastball.

“He didn’t tell me which pitch,” Hinch said, “but I think [it was] somewhere toward the middle of the long at-bat [against] Mercedes where he got a little bit tender.”

Who could fill Turnbull’s spot?

Turnbull becomes the third member of the Tigers rotation to land on the IL, joining José Ureña -- whom Detroit hopes to bring back for Sunday’s series finale against the White Sox -- and Julio Teheran. But replacing Turnbull could be much more complicated than the other two, or even compared to Turnbull’s season-opening stint on the IL while he dealt with COVID-19.

Though the Tigers won’t need a fifth starter until next Saturday thanks to Monday’s off-day, they’ll have to replace Turnbull for at least one turn before he’s eligible to come off the injured list on June 15. They were able to fill Ureña’s spot earlier this week with a bullpen game in Milwaukee that began with Tyler Alexander. That could be more difficult this time around with the Tigers going on a 13-day stretch without an off-day and Michael Fulmer trying to overcome fatigue.

Rony García, who pitched three innings in that aforementioned bullpen game, could slide into the rotation. He made four starts at Triple-A Toledo before getting the callup, posting a 3.20 ERA while allowing 13 hits over 19 2/3 inning with 10 walks and 24 strikeouts. Major League veteran Wily Peralta has a 2.70 ERA in five starts for the Mud Hens, but he would have to be added to the 40-man roster. So would prospect Logan Shore, who has a 3.22 ERA in five starts and just tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings Wednesday night.

Don’t expect top pitching prospect Matt Manning to get the call. The hard-throwing 23-year-old right-hander, MLB Pipeline’s No. 19 overall prospect, has allowed 13 runs on 15 hits over seven innings in his last two starts, raising his ERA for the season to 9.23.

Who takes Turnbull’s roster spot for now?

The Tigers recalled Bryan Garcia from Triple-A Toledo, where he had just been optioned on Monday. He tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings on one hit with a strikeout Wednesday for the Hens.

The Tigers will need to make another roster move to reinstate Ureña from the 10-day IL if he starts Sunday.