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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Predicting the Detroit Tigers' September call-ups

Aside from predicting the roster in spring training, about the most fun you can have throwing darts at the board during the season is predicting the minor-league call-ups when the active rosters expand from 25 on Sept. 1.

As with most other recent seasons, the Detroit Tigers probably won’t add a ton of bodies, simply because they’re in the mode of trying to win now, not trying to see what’s down on the farm.

So far, from the hints he’s given off, first-year manager Brad Ausmus sounds like his philosophy on the process meshes pretty well with that of both general manager Dave Dombrowski, as well as his predecessor in the manager’s chair, Jim Leyland.

“Well, generally in a pennant race, you want to bring up guys that can help you win, but not turn your clubhouse into a sardine can,” Ausmus said last week. “General philosophy.”

There are some guys, though, who could help in pinch-hitting or pinch-running roles, as well as the reality that a bullen which has been overtaxed for much of the season could certainly use an influx of arms, so Ausmus never really has to worry about overusing anyone who doesn’t fall into the “back-end arm” category.

Here’s a look at some of the players who will probably be called up, when the calendar flips to September on Monday:

[UPDATED: Ausmus told reporters in Chicago that Moya, Collins, Perez will join the Tigers Monday; Ray, Lobstein and McCann Tuesday. Ryan will be recalled Tuesday, as well, but he really never left the team. Drew VerHagen — hurt after his spot start with the Tigers — will be recalled, and placed on the 60-day disabled list to make room for McCann on the 40-man roster.]

James McCann, C, Triple-A Toledo — Some are surprised he’s not up already, since his bat (.295 average, 34 doubles, 7 home runs) could provide an upgrade over current backup Bryan Holaday. The reality, though, is that McCann doesn’t know the pitching staff as well as Holaday, so he probably won’t get a ton of playing time, if he does come up, but he certainly will be useful as an emergency catcher who can also pinch hit against a tough lefty or two now and again.

Hernan Perez, IF, Triple-A Toledo — There were arguments that Perez, not Eugenio Suarez, should have been the Tigers’ pick when they were looking to figure out their shortstop position. Perez has been up each of the last two seasons, and certainly won’t be overawed, if he comes back again. He’s also quick enough to be used as a pinch runner here and there.

Kyle Lobstein, LHP, Triple-A Toledo — Pitched well in his big-league debut, and again in his big-league starting debut, and didn’t do anything to indicate that he won’t be the starter on Tuesday, the next time Anibal Sanchez’s spot in the rotation comes up.

Kyle Ryan, LHP, Triple-A Toledo — Matched Lobstein’s effort in his own MLB debut in Saturday’s doubleheader, tossing six scoreless innings to help the Tigers to a much-needed split. He’s done very well since his promotion to Toledo earlier this month, after an up-and-down start to the season in Double-A Erie, and has been told he’ll be back on Tuesday, after being “sent down” after Saturday’s game.

The later the Tigers go into September, the less likely they are to need one spot starter, let alone two, but it wouldn’t surprise me if both Lobstein and Ryan stick around for use in long relief.

Robbie Ray, LHP, Triple-A Toledo; Buck Farmer, RHP, Triple-A Toledo — If neither Lobstein nor Ryan fit in the long relief role, the Tigers might turn to two others who’ve spot started for them this season.

Steven Moya, OF, Double-A Erie — The MVP of the Eastern League, and Futures Game participant now holds the Seawolves’ single-season records for home runs (35) and RBI (104). He could conceivably give the Tigers some pop off the bench, but he’s not a defensive replacement by any stretch of the imagination, and his long swing might merely produce more strikeouts up two levels.


Melvin Mercedes, RHP, Triple-A Toledo
— Made a cameo appearance when the Tigers were waiting on Jim Johnson to be ready. Could come back, if they’re really stretching for relievers.

Tyler Collins, OF, Triple-A Toledo — He was on the Opening Day Tigers roster, and would give them another left-handed bat to use as a pinch-hitter. Can also run a bit, and play decent defense, but doesn’t really offer a huge improvement over the guys the Tigers already have in the outfield, and would be redundant if Moya comes up.

Jose Valdez, RHP, Double-A Erie — The Seawolves’ closer could come up to get a taste of big-league life, but probably wouldn’t be someone thrown into any significant role in the big leagues.


Mike Hessman, IF, Triple-A Toledo
— He’s not on the 40-man roster, but would be a sentimental add, rewarding a good organizational soldier who set the International League record for home runs midseason. The 36-year-old hasn’t been in the big leagues since 2010, and hasn’t been up with the Tigers since 2008.


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