The Tigers announced yesterday they’re recalling pitching prospect Alex Faedo to make his MLB debut. He’ll get the start in the second game of today doubleheader against the Pirates.
Faedo, 26, was Detroit’s first-round pick in the 2017 draft after a standout career at the University of Florida. Regarded as a potential top five talent at one point, he slipped to 18th after a bit of a slow start to his draft year. Faedo was excellent late in that season, though, helping the Gators to a national title. Between his college resume, strong sinker-slider combination and strike-throwing ability, he looked like a potential quick-moving rotation piece.
Things haven’t played out that way, in large part due to injury. Faedo did not pitch during his post-draft summer as the Tigers managed his innings following the deep postseason run in college. The following year, he got out to a decent start at High-A but struggled after a midseason promotion to Double-A. Faedo repeated that level in 2019 and fared better, posting a 3.90 ERA with a 28.3% strikeout rate in 115 1/3 innings. He looked as if he might be a potential MLB option by 2020, but Faedo suffered a forearm strain and was shut down that August.
While the team had initially hoped to avoid surgery, he required a Tommy John procedure in December. Faedo was nevertheless added to the Detroit 40-man roster to keep him from being taken in the Rule 5 draft, but he spent the entire 2021 season on the injured list. Baseball America ranked him # 20 prospect in the organization this past offseason, noting that his recent injury history and below-average changeup may eventually push him towards a bullpen role. For now, he remains a starting pitching option, where he should at least pound the strike zone and miss some bats with his slider.
Faedo tossed five scoreless innings with eight strikeouts during his first start at Triple-A Toledo this year. That’s his only experience at the minors’ top level to date, and it’s possible he’ll head back out on optional assignment immediately after today’s outing. He figures to get an extended big league look at some point fairly soon, however, and Detroit’s recent spate of rotation injuries could force him to assume a significant role in the coming months.
The Tigers are without each of Casey Mize, Matt Manning and Tyler Alexander due to arm injuries. Eduardo Rodríguez, Tarik Skubal, Michael Pineda and rookie Beau Brieske are the top four currently-healthy arms. Detroit hasn’t expressed much concern about possible long-term absences for Mize or Manning, but both righties are in the early stages of throwing programs. The Tigers don’t have an off day until May 19, and they’re faced with doubleheaders both this afternoon and next Tuesday against Oakland.
Joey Wentz and Elvin Rodríguez are starting games in Toledo, as is non-roster veteran Chase Anderson. The Tigers also have former starters Drew Hutchison and Wily Peralta working as multi-inning bullpen options in the majors. Manager AJ Hinch recently reiterated that he prefers Peralta in a relief role, so it does not seem as if he’ll step into the rotation mix (link via Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free-Press).