Detroit Tigers All-Star Jhonny Peralta is returning to the lineup on Friday against the Miami Marlins, as the American League Central champions close out the 2013 regular season with a three-game road trip.
According to MLB.com's "Lineups" Twitter account, he will start in left field rather than his traditional position of shortstop, which is now occupied by Jose Iglesias:
Peralta's 50-game suspension, for his role in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal was completed on Wednesday.
How much of an impact will Peralta have for the Tigers in the playoffs?
In August, shortly after the announcement of the suspension, sources told ESPN's Pedro Gomez that Peralta would likely not appear in the postseason. And Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski "said the organization has not discussed whether Peralta will be on the postseason roster," the AP reported Friday (via ESPN). But it seems Peralta is returning in the nick of time to help the Tigers on a possible World Series run.
In 104 games this season, Peralta has batted a career-best .305 with 11 home runs and 54 RBI.
Even without Peralta's bat in the lineup, though, the Tigers have had no trouble generating offense in 2013. Detroit ranks first in the majors with a .285 team batting average, and second in runs (793), on-base percentage (.348) and slugging percentage (.439).
A deep pitching rotation headlined by 21-game winner Max Scherzer has been a big part of the Tigers' success, too, as the team leads the league with 107 quality starts.
This is a great opportunity for Jhonny Peralta to shake off some rust after such a long layoff.
It remains to be seen just how big of a contributor he can be (if at all) in October, but his talent and prior production can't be questioned. Hence his immediate return as a starter.