Thanks to playing in baseball’s worst division the Tigers look headed to the postseason despite Jarrod Washburn posting a 7.33 ERA in eight starts since arriving via trade with the Mariners, but now his status for the playoffs is in doubt. That is, if the Tigers even wanted him stepping on the mound in October.
Washburn allowed four runs in the first inning of yesterday before exiting with pain in the left knee that has bothered him for much of the season. As manager Jim Leyland put it after an ugly 11-1 loss: “Right now, it doesn’t appear he’s pitchable.” No structural damage has been found via multiple MRI exams, but Washburn made it clear that something significant is wrong:
It’s just as bad, or maybe a little worse, than it’s been. The pain has been pretty bad, but it’s never swelled up. And today after just one inning, it swelled up pretty bad. I don’t know if something else got hurt in there or what. It’s definitely not getting better. I’ve tried to pitch through it, and I’m not helping the team at all.
We’ve tried everything. I don’t know if there’s anything more that we can try from a treatment standpoint or medication or shots or things like that. We’ve tried everything we can to try to get the pain out of there and put it at a tolerable level. Just nothing’s worked right now.
Detroit’s rotation is a mess right now and the Tigers have lost six of their last eight games despite playing the lowly Royals and Blue Jays, but ultimately they’ll probably limp into the playoffs with or without Washburn. And once there the Tigers can take advantage of the drawn-out postseason schedule to lean heavily on Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, and Rick Porcello in the rotation and Fernando Rodney, Brandon Lyon, and Ryan Perry in the bullpen.
Washburn has been a complete bust and Detroit has just the 10th-best record in baseball at 77-67, but barring a total collapse they’re headed to the playoffs and have the top-end talent to make a deep run once their lack of rotation depth is no longer a major factor.