These Tigers can make post-Deadline impact

July 28th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Jason Beck’s Tigers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

There’s a real chance that Eduardo Rodriguez and Michael Lorenzen threw their last pitches as Tigers this week. The collection of scouts watching their outings against the Angels at Comerica Park suggests both will be popular topics in the days and hours leading up to Tuesday’s Trade Deadline. Others could also draw interest, such as relievers Jason Foley, Alex Lange, José Cisnero and Chasen Shreve. Maybe even a versatile position player like Zach McKinstry could entice an offer.

It could be Detroit’s best and last chance this year to add impact prospects and build toward the future. But then what happens to the Major League club, which still has two months to play without potentially two-fifths of its previous rotation and possibly a late-inning bullpen piece or two?

At that point, opportunity knocks for somebody to step up and position themselves for a bigger role next year. A year ago, Kerry Carpenter earned his callup the week after the Robbie Grossman trade and showed his swing could work in the Majors. Lange and Foley helped fill the void left by Michael Fulmer’s trade and laid the groundwork for their eventual rise to the current late-inning duo.

So who stands to benefit this year? While most of the names are familiar, they’re not regulars -- yet:

RHP : Last Sunday’s six scoreless innings against the Padres made the case not to write off the former first-round pick as a starter. He was optioned to Triple-A Toledo after the game, so he won’t be eligible to return until Aug. 8, barring an injury. Coincidentally, that’s also the post-Deadline game when the Tigers will need a fifth starter.

LHP : Yes, Wentz struggled mightily by the end of his three-month stint in Detroit’s rotation. But his 12-strikeout performance over 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball for Toledo last week showed signs of progress. He could be a candidate for a spot start Saturday at Miami, but an open rotation slot could offer him time to prove what he learned and give the Tigers time to determine if the 25-year-old fits in their plans for 2024.

RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long: He was the last player acquired by former general manager Al Avila, brought over in the Fulmer trade. The former Twins Draft pick impressed the new administration with a solid half-season at Double-A Erie, averaging 10.1 strikeouts and 7.1 hits per nine innings. But he really thrived after adding a cutter to his pitch mix last month. The 25-year-old made his Triple-A Toledo debut last weekend and could push for a late-season callup with any success.

RHP : He has been in Detroit for about six weeks, working mainly in low-leverage situations, and with mixed results. But his pitch mix of a mid-90s fastball, sinker, slider and sweeper, plus strong swing-and-miss rates, suggest upside in a bigger role, possibly setting up.

RHP : Nobody knows about opportunity better than Brieske, who made his case as a Major Leaguer when injuries depleted Detroit’s rotation last year. His stuff has played up in shorter doses as a reliever since returning from an injury, including a 97 mph fastball and an 88 mph sinker. A multi-inning role has suited him so far, and seeing his pitches in a late-inning situation is intriguing.

LHP : The former Marlins reliever was acquired off waivers last fall while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He has tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings with five walks and six strikeouts in his last four outings at Triple-A Toledo. The 27-year-old has fared well against left-handed hitters and could get a late-season look if Detroit deals Shreve.