One of the more encouraging things I saw at Sunday’s game took place before the game even started. I saw Kenny Rogers throwing long toss for about 15 minutes. He was throwing from the gate of the visitors bullpen to the left field foul line. In a game he’s starting, he’ll actually warm up by throwing a little farther than that. Still, it looks like a guy who is much closer to pitching than he is to surgery.
The positive prognosis was also iterated by Danny Knobler on WDFN Monday afternoon. Knobler said that in a conversation on Friday, Rogers told Knobler that he would be disappointed if he wasn’t back in a month.
Right now, and barring set backs, it looks like the worst case scenario is that Rogers will be back in the rotation in another 6 weeks or so. That would put him at right about where his scheduled rehab would land him. But it seems like he’s even ahead of that.
What this really means is that the Tigers bullpen should receive a boost. Ideally Rogers assumes Chad Durbin’s spot in the rotation. After a couple shaky outings, Durbin has been decent. Certainly suitable as a 6th starter to say the least. If he can avoid a big slide in his next half dozen starts, he’ll most likely retain a roster spot and slide to the bullpen.
Like relievers Jason Grilli and Wil Ledezma, Durbin is out of options and has to clear waivers before returning to the minors. I’m all for retaining as much talent as possible in the organization, and roster status should be a factor in these decisions. But the middle of the bullpen has struggled and they need better results. Swapping out Durbin for a struggling reliever could provide a boost.
Now this is all premature because Rogers isn’t even pitching yet. Durbin could struggle. The bullpen could find their stride. But the pen could receive a boost in the form of the disabled list.