July 15, 2011

Could Jacob Turner be the Tigers rotation answer?

Yahoo Sports

With the July 31st trade deadline just two weeks away, what the Detroit Tigers are going to add to the Major League roster in these next two weeks has become a hot button topic to say the least. The Tigers, like many teams, are looking for another starting pitcher. Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman reported that the Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, and a few other teams are looking at Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda; Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reported that the Tigers were in Colorado scouting Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenezon Thursday night. The Tigers are also looking for someone to plug in at third base, but haven’t been directly linked to names yet.

There is the chance, though, that the Tigers have a solution in their own farm system. I’m of course talking about the organization’s number one prospect Jacob Turner. Many Tigers fans and people around the team are worried that if he’s brought up before he’s “ready” it’ll hurt his future. Jim Leyland even told the Detroit News when asked about Turner’s chances of being called up in the next month, “Long shot speculation.” But, with Turner, Nick Castellanos and not much else down on the farm, the Tigers may be hard-pressed to find a deal that gets them more than a Jarrod Washburn redux.If the Tigers can’t make a deal for Kuroda or the Orioles’ Jeremy Guthrie without gutting the farm system, then they should just call up Turner.

With Turner pitching Friday night and the Tigers needing a Wednesday starter, there’s no reason not to call him up for that start as he is the club’s best internal option. It’s doubtful that in the last year of his contract Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski is worried about starting Turner’s service time or the possibility of him eventually earning “Super Two” status, which is something that may not even exist anymore after this next round of collective bargaining.

The biggest issue for Turner the rest of the way will be managing his innings. Turner has already thrown 100 innings at Double-A this year and the Tigers don’t want to push the 20-year-old too hard. I’d be speculating on the innings limit, but it’s probably in the neighborhood of 150. Still, even if they hold him to six innings a start the rest of the way he’d make a big impact on this team if he’s effective.

The Tigers need a pitcher for next week unless they decide to skip someone and Turner is the best option at their disposal. He may not be 100% “ready” for The Show as his secondary offerings could still use some work, but we’re talking about a 6-foot-5 power arm with plus control. As they say, flags fly forever. You don’t let premium talent work on stuff at Double-A during a pennant race. You may think I’m crazy about rushing this young kid, but there were plenty of people in Spring Training saying this young guy on Seattle still needs to work on his secondary pitches. His name was Michael Pineda and so far this year he’s outpitched teammate and 2010 Cy Young award winner Felix Hernandez.

Turner isn’t going to be the horse that carries them deep into the playoffs, but the Tigers already have a guy for that job. The idea that Turner isn’t “ready” and therefore can’t fill-in as the fifth starter down the stretch is a bit of hyperbole. That seems like the perfect role for him this year.

Nick Shlain, a Journalism student at Eastern Michigan University, writes for Detroit Baseball Page.com. You can follow him on Twitter @nshlain.

2 Comment(s)

  1. Walewander | Jul 15, 2011 | Reply

    No. He’s not ready yet. The Tigers have about two legit prospects, I don’t think they need to go all Andrew Miller with Turner.

    Even if it weren’t rushing him, it’s very much an open question whether Turner would help the club. You’re gonna need a lot better evidence then “Michael Pineda is doing fine” to convince me.

  2. Anonymous | Jul 16, 2011 | Reply

    Since we don’t have a good option for a fifth starter, we might as well set up the rotation schedule in the order of 5-1-2-3-4 or even 5-4-1-2-3. The idea is that, since we’re probably going to lose the games involving the back end of our rotation anyway, we might as well use them to burn off the starts of other teams’ best starters. By doing this, we get better match-ups in the remaining games, which would actually help the overall W-L record. (Remember, having 3 close wins for every 2 blowouts throughout an entire season is good enough for 97 wins.)

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