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Written by Brian Buckey | 16 July 2012

Brennan_Boesch_photoThe Tigers opened a crucial home stand with a thrilling 8-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. The win, coupled with a White Sox loss, moves the Tigers 2.5 games behind in the AL Central. Detroit has three games remaining with the Angels before they host the White Sox for three games over the weekend.

Brennan Boesch provided a dramatic go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning giving the Tigers a 7-5 lead. Angels’ outfielder Mark Trumbo crushed a solo home run off Joaquin Benoit to cut the Detroit lead in half. But Quentin Berry knocked in Alex Avila with a single into center field and the Tigers led 8-6 going into the ninth.

Jose Valverde came in the game for the top of the ninth inning. After retiring the first two batters, Torii Hunter dropped down a surprising bunt single. That brought Albert Pujols to the plate as the tying run. Valverde forced a fly out to center field to earn his 17th save of the year.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 16 July 2012

JustinUptonDetroit Tigers trade rumors have recently been centering around Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but the thought was that he would be able to veto a move to Detroit if the clubs were able to agree on a trade. Detroit, along with Cleveland, Kansas City and Oakland, was on his no-trade list when he signed his current deal before the 2010 season.

There had been talk that the list had since changed, with ESPN’s Buster Olney reporting last week that the New York Yankees were on the new list. The other three teams remained unknown.

But now Fox Sports is reporting the full list:

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton can block trades to four teams, major league sources told FOXSports.com: the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs.
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Written by Matt Snyder | 16 July 2012

ComericaParkNightThe Detroit Tigers find themselves only a half game out of the playoff picture after completing the series win over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday. The Tigers have been playing excellent baseball for over a month now, they’ve won 20 of their last 31 games going back to June 9, but the stretch has only served to dig them out of the hole, not separate them from the rest of the league.

Here’s the current American League playoff picture:

AL East: New York (54-34)

AL Central: Chicago White Sox (49-39)

AL West: Texas (54-35)

AL Wildcard: Los Angeles Angels (49-40)

AL Wildcard: Baltimore (46-42)

The Yankees have a firm grasp on the East with an eight game lead over second place Baltimore, and Texas has been sitting comfortably for most of the year in the West, although the Angels have been playing very well lately (Texas is currently five games up). The AL Central is the closest division with the Tigers just 3.5 games behind the White Sox.

I think it’s fairly safe to say that both the Yankees and Rangers will be playing in the postseason, but beyond that there’s a lot still up in the air, especially when it comes down to the (new) second Wild Card spot.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 15 July 2012

According to the Detroit Free Press, Andy Dirks will be evaluated when the team returns home on Monday in the hopes that he could begin his return to baseball this week.

I’m just speculating here, but with the Toledo Mud Hens being on the road until Friday, Dirks could see a couple of games in West Michigan (who return home to Comstock Park on Wednesday) if he is indeed ready to play right away. (West Michigan and Toledo typically get the bulk of the Tigers’ rehab assignments due to their proximity to Detroit.)

There’s no word yet on how long Dirks’ rehab assignment would be, but the Tigers would be faced with a (somewhat) difficult roster decision once he returns to the big club. There are probably three candidates to be ousted upon his arrival.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 13 July 2012

According to Matthew Mowery of the Oakland Press, Darin Downs remains with the team and has not been sent to the minor leagues.

The Detroit Tigers official website has been showing all day that Darin Downs had been assigned to the Toledo Mud Hens (he has also been removed from the active and 40-man rosters on the website), but apparently this is an erroneous piece of information.

If Downs is in fact still with the team, then the roster is set for now. The club officially announced that Danny Worth had been recalled earlier today.

[UPDATE:] The Tigers official website has removed the erroneous transaction and added Downs back to both the 40-man and 25-man rosters.

Matt Snyder is the editor of The Tigers Den. He can be reached on Twitter @snyder_matthew.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 13 July 2012

DarinDownsThe Detroit Tigers made a roster move yesterday that involved assigning reliever Darin Downs to the Toledo Mud Hens. He no longer appears on the team’s 40-man roster, so that means he would have had to clear waivers for the team to retain him and send him to the minor leagues.

The move frees up a second spot on the active roster. I had initial thought that Danny Worth would be recalled (and Downs retained after his outstanding performance last week), but that appears to not be the case anymore. Second best odds appeared to be with Worth and relief pitcher Luis Marte returning to the big leagues – and this is probably the most likely scenario still – but it no longer has to be. Downs, a 27 year old who’d been in professional baseball since he was a teenager, was likely out of options* so removing him from the 40-man roster after placing him on waivers would have been the only way to keep him in the system.

*Option year info isn’t published publicly anywhere that I know of, so it can be difficult to determine on the fly.

My first question about this is why? Why do you call up an emergency pitcher for six games that isn’t already on the 40-man roster if you know you’re going to immediately burn him? I guess that’s why he’s in the system, but the team probably could have called up Luke Putkonen, Thad Weber, or even Adam Wilk (guys already on the 40-man with option years remaining) if they didn’t want to risk losing a player. It all worked out for the best though. Downs was fantastic in his 4.1 innings of work (seven strikeouts, one hit, and one walk), and the club still gets to keep him in the minor leagues.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 12 July 2012

DrewSmyly2I don’t believe the team has said anything publicly about a hard innings limit for rookie pitcher Drew Smyly, but judging by how they’ve treated young, high-ceiling pitchers in the past (like  Rick Porcello and Jacob Turner) they’re probably looking at a target of around 150-160 innings for the second year pro. That shouldn’t be a big issue down the stretch. If the team keeps a normal five man rotation Smyly will likely earn 15 more starts. At his current pace of 5.1 innings per start he would finish the season with right around 162 innings pitched. Not too bad.

But if the organization was looking to reduce his innings even further, or if they felt like he was wearing down at the end of the summer, or if they also wanted to get Jacob Turner more MLB experience, they could use employ a dual starter approach once the rosters expand in September. The method would be simple: schedule each pitcher to go three or four innings (maybe the “starter” goes four innings and the “reliever” goes three) with an automatic, pre-defined pitching change. This could potentially accomplish three things.

First of all, it would allow them to both continue to learn how to mentally and physically prepare to pitch every fifth day in the major league in crucial situations. If the season to date has been any indication, the Tigers are going to have to battle the Chicago White Sox (and perhaps Cleveland Indians) the whole way. The main goal in September will still be to win games, but if they can do that while furthering the development of two pitching prospect, then all the better.

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