Apparently, the Detroit Tigers will bring phenom Jacob Turner up from the minors to pitch on Thursday.
Ordinarily, this move wouldn't be that big of a deal. The Tigers need to rest their starters a little bit, and they want to keep Duane Below in his role in long relief.
So no big deal, right? Wrong.
The Tigers are definitely auditioning Turner for his rightful spot in the rotation for years to come. But more importantly, they are auditioning him for this year's postseason roster.
Let's take a look at what the Tigers are looking at heading into the home stretch of the pennant race.
They have a very explosive team with the best pitcher in the game and the best closer this year. Their bullpen is very solid overall, but their rotation is a question mark after Justin Verlander.
The rotation will also be trimmed to four pitchers at most once the postseason begins. The likely one to be dropped will be Brad Penny. In fact, it makes little sense for Penny to even make the postseason roster as he will definitely not be back next year.
So the rotation after Verlander will likely be Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and Doug Fister.
The bullpen is set at the back end with Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit. Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth are likely set as the two main southpaws.
Al Albuquerque is likely a part of this if he is healthy. David Pauley is probably on here as well. That brings us to 10.
Given how important pitching is in the postseason, the Tigers will likely take at least 12 pitchers, and maybe 13. Personally, I would lean towards 13.
That leaves Duane Below, Rick Perry and someone else to battle for those three spots.
Here is where Turner can squeeze his way into the postseason.
Turner is already on the 40-man roster, meaning that he likely will be called up when rosters are expanded next month. Along with Turner, Andy Oliver, Brayan Villareal, Adam Wilk and Jose Ortega are on that expanded 40-man roster.
Of those players, nearly all them are inexperienced. Furthermore, nearly all of them have had their share of missteps in Detroit.
Additionally, of all of those players, Turner has, by far, the best stuff.
The question comes down to how mature he is and whether or not he can keep his cool at this level on the biggest stage.
This is why his next start is so important. Unless Jim Leyland decides to go to a six-man rotation over the last month to keep Verlander and company fresh (not likely), this will be Turner's last start of the year.
That means it is his best opportunity to separate himself from his competitors.
This scenario is not without precedent. A few years ago Tampa Bay brought up David Price, their own super-rookie, for a couple of spot starts in September.
The Rays liked him so much, they kept him on their postseason roster and he contributed to the tune of a 1.59 ERA a win and even a save during their improbable run to the World Series.
Turner has just as good stuff as Price, and will have the benefit of two more starts prior to September.
Okay, so this is a tough situation and quite frankly a long shot, but it surely is something that all involved should keep a close eye on.
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