Asked who could make the jump to Detroit once rosters expand on Sunday, manager Ron Gardenhire deadpanned, “They’re all here.”
Or at least, they’ve all been here -- nearly all of them, anyway.
The Tigers have called up so many pitchers already this summer in their need for innings -- 30 players have pitched for Detroit this season, not including position player Brandon Dixon -- that nearly all the pitchers who could join the Tigers next week have already pitched for them at some point. Most have been sent down either to get more regular work or because the Tigers needed relievers who could give them multiple innings. That won’t be an issue with expanded rosters.
Likewise, the Tigers have three members of their Opening Day lineup currently with the Mud Hens, and all are likely to rejoin them for the stretch run. Third baseman Jeimer Candelario, outfielder Christin Stewart and catcher Grayson Greiner were all activated from the injured list and optioned to Triple-A Toledo over the past couple of weeks with the idea of having them eligible to return. Stewart is eligible to return Sunday, while Candelario and Greiner will have to wait until the Mud Hens’ season ends to serve the necessary 10 days in the Minors.
If the Tigers have any first-time callups for September, they’ll likely come from Toledo among the many prospects that need to be added to the 40-man roster at season’s end anyway to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. But after general manager Al Avila touted starters Kyle Funkhouser and Beau Burrows earlier this summer as potential late-season callups, neither has made a strong case. Burrows is done for the season with an oblique strain, while Funkhouser has posted a 7.77 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break.
Bryan Garcia, potentially the Tigers’ next late-inning reliever, is a strong callup candidate as he finishes up a solid comeback season from Tommy John surgery, including 46 strikeouts over 40 1/3 innings across three Minor League levels. Speedy corner outfielder Jacob Robson could provide a left-handed bat off the bench, while Danny Woodrow could do the same in center field.
A tougher decision could await on center-field prospect Daz Cameron, who has struggled to a .217 average -- including .191 since the All-Star break -- and .720 OPS this season.
None of the Tigers’ top pitching prospects, by contrast, need to be added to the 40-man roster this coming offseason. With several other prospects needing to be protected, those spots are critical in the short term. Thus, if Manning, Mize and Faedo get a look with the big league roster anytime soon, it’ll more likely come in Spring Training as non-roster invites.