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Struggling Tigers Pitcher Could Return This Weekend Against the Blue Jays

Kenta Maeda could rejoin the Detroit Tigers rotation on Saturday or Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays. Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press notes that Madea is lined up to pitch one of those days this weekend. However, the Tigers haven’t made any official plans just yet. The right-hander has been on the 15-day injured list with an illness since mid-May. Maeda did make a rehab start last weekend and got through a bullpen session on Wednesday with no concerns. Matt Manning is set to make another start for the Tigers on Friday.

Strong Chance for Kenta Maeda to Return This Weekend

With Eduardo Rodríguez signing a four-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Tigers added some experience to their young rotation. Maeda agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal in the offseason as the veteran presence within a Tigers rotation that still needs seasoning. However, the start to Maeda’s tenure in Detroit has been a rough one, posting a 6.75 ERA in 30 2/3 innings across seven starts. Only three of those starts were where the majority of the damage was. He was tagged for 19 (18 earned) runs in eight innings of work.

Maeda’s Replacement in the Rotation

The former first-round pick in 2016 made his debut back in 2021. Manning struggled with a 5.80 ERA in his rookie season but became a better back-of-the-rotation arm. Since then, he has a 3.59 ERA in 158 innings which includes three starts for the Tigers this season. Once Maeda returns, it’s unclear if he’ll be sent to Triple-A to make room.

“We haven’t really gone any further than that until Kenta throws a bullpen,” manager A.J. Hinch said to Petzold. “We still haven’t done much other than catch up with him and have him play a little bit of catch. Once he throws his bullpen, we’ll start to look at the next series.”

Manning has 48 starts in the majors. In five starts this season, he has a 4.88 ERA with 12 walks and 23 strikeouts through 27 2/3 innings. He does have a 3.79 ERA with 24 strikeouts and seven walks across 19 innings for Triple-A Toledo. His biggest weakness has been against left-handed hitters, who are hitting .304 with an .897 OPS against Manning across both levels.

“We’re very fortunate to have some starting pitching depth,” Hinch said. “It’s kind of the conversation around Kenta, the conversation around Matt. Last night is a scary reminder that things can change so quickly in the rotation, so you always want guys to work on things and do things that are going to make them better and better.”

No Plans for a Six-Man Rotation

Madea taking Manning’s spot could give the other four starters an extra day of rest. But the Tigers won’t be going with a six-man rotation.

“It’s not that I haven’t been told anything,” Maeda said in Japanese, interpreted by Dai Sekizaki. “I have a general idea of maybe when I’m starting or not. It’s not like I’m not going to pitch for the next 10 days, so in that sense, it’s easier to schedule things and be back on the routine.”

Main Photo: © Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports


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