Miner to start Monday in Kansas City
Right-hander returns to replace Bonine in rotation
BALTIMORE -- Zach Miner came to the rescue for the Tigers' rotation two summers ago. Detroit is hoping he can do the same now.
After leaving the fifth starter's slot open leading into the All-Star break, Detroit is making a change. Miner, not Eddie Bonine, is now scheduled to join the rotation and start at Kansas City on Monday night.
"It appears like it's going to be Miner," manager Jim Leyland said, "but that's not etched in stone."
The game will mark Miner's first start for Detroit since he made a spot appearance at Boston in April last season. Longer-term, it'll be his first real stint in the rotation since he filled in for Mike Maroth in the summer of 2006. Miner's success then played an unsung role in the Tigers' run towards the playoffs.
Given the Tigers' efforts to fill the back end of the rotation, there's little that's unsung about their need there now.
The Tigers optioned Miner to Triple-A Toledo earlier this month with a 3-3 record, 4.23 ERA and six holds out of the Detroit bullpen. He moved into the Mud Hens rotation, but Leyland said at the time that he was not being considered as a starting candidate barring an urgent need. The idea, Leyland explained, was to get Miner to mix his pitches better instead of trying to overthrow his fastball, a habit that had cost him at times as a reliever as he tried to hit the mid-90s on the radar gun.
Miner made one relief appearance and two starts for the Hens. The 26-year-old right-hander tossed four scoreless innings July 8 against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Indianapolis hit him for four earned runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings last Sunday, but he racked up seven strikeouts in the process.
His promotion comes at the expense of Bonine, whose stint in the rotation lasted five outings. The right-hander pitched back-to-back quality starts June 20 and 27 against the Padres and Rockies, allowing three earned runs over 15 combined innings, but American League hitting proved tougher for him. He gave up two earned runs on seven hits over 2 2/3 innings July 2 at Minnesota, then Cleveland knocked him out after 3 2/3 innings with five runs scored on nine hits a week ago.
The Tigers optioned Bonine to Double-A Erie after that July 9 start under the idea to give him some work during the All-Star break, and give the Tigers an extra hitter while they didn't need the fifth starter. Though Leyland indicated Bonine was the leading candidate to return, those plans weren't firm.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.