Ian Kinsler is making himself a lot of friends in Detroit. In his second game as a Tiger, Kinsler knocked in both of the Tigers’ runs via a fourth inning solo home run and a walkoff single in the 10th to give the Tigers a 2-1 win over Kansas City.
After Max Scherzer tossed eight shutout innings and Royals starter Jason Vargas allowed only one run in seven, the bullpens were big factors in this one. First up was new Tigers closer Joe Nathan, who allowed a single and then walked two to load the bases and then allowed a sac fly to send the game into extra innings. In the 10th, Ned Yost decided to go with Tim Collins even though Greg Holland was fresh, having only faced one batter two days ago. Collins walked two and then gave up the game-winning hit to Kinsler. Or game-losing, depending on your point of view.
So, two games between the Tigers and Royals and two games where Ned Yost’s bullpen usage played a big role (on Monday Yost went with Wade Davis to start a tied ninth inning and only called on Holland once two men were on base).
The bullpen is supposed to be the Royals’ greatest strength, but Yost is doing his best to neutralize that in the early going.
It’s been one issue after the next for Indians reliever Andrew Miller, and on Saturday, the left-hander landed back on the 10-day disabled list with right knee inflammation. According to comments made by club manager Terry Francona, Miller’s knee has been a problem since the start of the year. The team has yet to determine a concrete timetable for his return to the bullpen.
Miller, 33, hasn’t looked like his usual sub-2.00 ERA, 2.0+ fWAR self this season, though he paired a 4.40 ERA and 6.3 BB/9 with an impressive 14.4 SO/9 across his first 14 1/3 innings. A left hamstring strain and minor back injury hampered his effectiveness on the mound, though this appears to be a more serious issue — especially given the five weeks he spent recovering from a tendon injury in his right knee last year.
In corresponding moves, the Indians designated right-hander Oliver Drake for assignment and recalled Triple-A right-handers Ben Taylor and Evan Marshall. Taylor, 25, was working on a 3.63 ERA, 1.0 BB/9 and 11.4 SO/9 through 17 1/3 innings in Triple-A Columbus, while 28-year-old Marshall turned in a terrific 0.77 ERA, 0.8 BB/9 and 6.9 SO/9 over his first 11 2/3 innings. Neither reliever has pitched more than a handful of innings at the big league level in 2018.