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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.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.