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Tigers’ pitching staff finally looking solid for stretch run

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A younger rotation might not have been what Tigers manager Brad Ausmus envisioned at the start of the season, but he’s finding little to complain about these days. With Mike Pelfrey and Jordan Zimmerman crowding the disabled list, rookie right-hander Michael Fulmer and sophomore lefties Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris have bolstered the rotation, while tried-and-true veterans like Anibal Sanchez have shown signs of consistency in the second half.

Since July, the Tigers’ rotation has played off of a collective 3.43 ERA, good for second-lowest among major league clubs. Their 2.12 BB/9 is also good for second-lowest in the league, although their 7.49 K/9 skews more toward the middle of the pack. Much of the credit can be given to Justin Verlander, and deservedly so, as Detroit’s ace halved his ERA to 2.04 during the second half of the season. The club has benefited from an airtight bullpen, too, one that doesn’t appear to have any major holes in it despite a couple of sub-par outings from left-hander Justin Wilson last month and a lingering blister that moved Shane Greene to a relief role earlier in the year.

On Saturday, the Tigers added to their ranks with left-hander Joe Mantiply, another promising rookie out of Triple-A Toledo. Prior to his Triple-A promotion, during which the 25-year-old allowed one home run, one walk, and struck out seven in 8 ⅓ innings, Mantiply worked a 2.47 ERA with Double-A Erie, polishing off a 62/11 K/BB rate through 51 innings. As for his role within Detroit’s pitching staff, Ausmus envisions Mantiply in middle relief, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com:

Mantiply certainly isn’t the only important cog in this machine, but with Verlander leading the charge, a slew of young, talented arms in the rotation and the ‘pen, and the eighth-best run percentage in the majors, he’ll help keep it running smoothly.

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.