Flashback a week. The Tigers had a big lead in the division and they were surging. Nate Robertson had turned in two solid performances. Jarrod Washburn’s troubles were optimistically assigned to a sore knee that would hopefully be better with a little rest. Armando Galarraga’s struggles were tied to elbow inflammation and with a little rest there was reason to think he wouldn’t be awful. This would be great news to have potentially 6 starters down the stretch with a big lead and 3 key cogs to the rotation having worked more than they ever had and looking for rest. Oh well. It was a good thought at the time.
Robertson has since gone down with pelvic inflammation. Washburn’s knee isn’t better. Galarraga’s elbow isn’t better. And so what may have been 6 is now 3. Washburn will search for effectiveness in the rotation and Eddie Bonine has been promoted to 5th starter for the remainder of the season.
Now remainder of the season could be 1 start, the actual remainder of the season, or something in between. Jim Leyland has been known to make decrees before only to change his mind a week later – at least he isn’t stubborn in that regard. The duration of Bonine’s spot is probably equally contingent on Bonine’s effectiveness and the health of Robertson and Galarraga. Though I suspect that Galarraga returning to the rotation would be a stretch at this point.
Robertson’s problem flared up after his start against Cleveland and he had hoped to make it through 5 innings against the Blue Jays, but it didn’t work so well. Still, if he can get back quickly he could find a spot as a starter.
The bigger downside of all the shuffling has to do with not just the potential effectiveness or ineffectiveness of injured and replacement players, but the increased importance that Verlander/Jackson/Porcello starts take on down the stretch. Extra rest or skipped spots don’t look to be an option for any of the 3 over the last 3 weeks of the season. And with a potential playoff spot and additional innings coming for all 3 pitchers that has to be a concern. Then again, just add it to the list.