Though the Tigers have remained safe and healthy so far this season amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the impact has now hit their schedule. Their four-game series against the Cardinals Tuesday through Thursday was postponed on Monday while the Cardinals deal with the impact of positive tests.
According to an MLB release, 13 members of the Cardinals' organization have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week, including seven players and six staff members. The team, which has been quarantined in Milwaukee since Thursday after its weekend series against the Brewers was postponed, was scheduled to fly to Detroit on Monday, but will instead remain in Milwaukee while undergoing daily testing.
That leaves the Tigers without an opponent for the next few days. The team announced it will work out at Comerica Park on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before flying Thursday evening to Pittsburgh, where it will pick up its schedule Friday with a three-game series against the Pirates.
The Tigers and Cardinals were originally scheduled to play a home-and-home series this week, with games at Comerica Park on Monday and Tuesday followed by games at Busch Stadium on Wednesday and Thursday. Once the Cardinals were quarantined, the series was moved entirely to Comerica Park in an attempt to reduce travel and fit in four games in three days. Additional positive tests forced those plans to change.
Whether and how those games could be made up remains to be seen. It could be that the Tigers play fewer than 60 games this regular season, in which case their standing and potential playoff qualification would be based on winning percentage.
"We have to get our rotation straightened out," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Using two openers and using the bullpen as much as we have, that won't last, not even in a 60-game schedule. The health of our starting rotation has got to get a little better here, more consistent. Once we iron that out and get four or five guys locked in, it's going to be OK."
Some of their starters will need to get throwing work in this week to keep their arm in shape. Boyd last pitched last Thursday, and he had been scheduled to start Tuesday's series opener. Fulmer hasn't pitched in a game in a week; he was warmed up to start Saturday against the Reds when rain washed out that game just before scheduled first pitch.
For Tyler Alexander, the break could allow him time to get into a starting routine and join the rotation over the weekend or early next week. He struck out 10 batters over 3 2/3 hitless innings of relief in Game 1 of Sunday's doubleheader sweep to the Reds, after which Gardenhire strongly hinted he was making a case to join the rotation.