It became official today, the Gambler will return to big league action this Friday against the Atlanta Braves. He’ll be tested right out of the gate by likely facing John Smoltz and a pretty potent offense from the Braves. Smoltz is having a very good year sporting an 8-3 record with a 2.84 ERA over 14 starts.
Kenny has made two rehab starts after undergoing surgery a few days before the season start. His first rehab start came on June 10th where he pitched 3.2 innings allowing 0 runs, 0 walks and two strikeouts. His second start was with the West Michigan Whitecaps which was pretty solid allowing a single earned run over five innings with 2 walks and 4 strikeouts. He seemed to be the Kenny of old forcing a 13-4 ground-out/fly-out ratio between the two starts.
With the return of Kenny the Tigers options open up in a number of ways:
1.) Addition of a #3 starter to the lineup. – If Kenny can return to 2006 form, Detroit will be sitting very comfortably with starters. All indications are that this will be the case between the two strong outings and Leyland’s confident statements:
â€œHe said he was healthy,â€ Leyland said today. â€œHe really wanted to pitch Wednesday.”
With Kenny filling a starting slot, Tiger GM Dave Dombrowski has some decisions to make though he says he’s far from making them:
â€œIâ€™ve learned to take it more day by day. Weâ€™ve got a lot of thought processes going on and different alternatives, but you never know what is going to happen. So until you have to make the decision, you donâ€™t do it.â€
Mike Maroth, Chad Durbin and Andrew Miller are all options to be moved from the starting lineup. Miller will not be moved to the bullpen and would likely just be moved back to Erie if it came to it. Mike Maroth and Chad Durbin are both options for the bullpen as well and Maroth is obvious trade bait.
2.) Leverage to trade for bullpen help. With Mike Maroth available as a trade option the Tigers can look for some bullpen help with a credible 5th starter as bait. Many teams could use Maroth tomorrow but the availablity of a good bullpen member is scarce currently.
Nate Robertson is also a trade possibility and would command a higher yield player than Maroth but that could come at a cost. Nate had a very solid April and I would prefer to see how he rebounds after his DL stint before a trade was really pursued.
The return of Kenny Rogers, Nate Robertson and Zach Miner will be a serious boost to Detroit in both the starting lineup but also the bullpen. It’s coming at just the right time too.