Tigers place Bonderman right back on DL

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Jeremy Bonderman struggled Monday in his return from the disabled list,
allowing six runs over four innings in his first start in more than a
year, and the Tigers sent him right back to the DL this afternoon.

Bonderman’s stuff was noticeably lacking following shoulder surgery,
as he averaged just 89.6 miles per hour with his fastball Monday after
clocking in at 92-94 mph prior to going under the knife.

As skipper Jim Leyland put it: “If you were a scout and not the manager, I would have said he just didn’t look like he was quite ready.”

And even with a plus fastball Bonderman was never all that
effective, posting a 4.74 ERA in nearly 1,000 innings with a
career-best mark of 4.08 in 2006. Much of his mediocrity stemmed from
sub par off-speed pitches and that hasn’t changed, so if Bonderman
can’t rediscover the missing 3-4 mph on his fastball it’s going to be
extremely tough for him to reemerge as more than a back-of-the-rotation
starter.

Unfortunately for the Tigers he’s owed $12.5 million this season and
another $12.5 million in 2010, so much like with Dontrelle Willis they
have no choice but to be patient. For now at least Willis remains in
Detroit’s rotation despite showing similarly diminished stuff while
going 1-3 with a 6.60 ERA and 16/20 K/BB ratio in six starts.

Joe Girardi won’t use Masahiro Tanaka in Game 7

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The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.

Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.

Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.

Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.