It doesn’t happen often when a trip to the disabled list actually benefits a team, but this is one of those cases.
The Detroit Tigers had to do some lineup adjusting Monday after both Alex Avila and Anibal Sanchez were sent to the DL. Sanchez is expected to miss two starts, opening the door for Jose Alvarez to get an encore performance after a solid outing a couple weeks ago.
Alvarez dazzled in a spot start on June 9 in which he tossed six innings and allowed just three hits and one walk. He’s no upgrade over Sanchez, but if he does well, his trade value could rise, giving the Tigers a valuable piece to be dangled come the trade deadline.
There’s no doubt the Tigers will be buyers at the deadline, and having someone like Alvarez to throw into a deal could keep them from losing one of their future stars.
Avila is said to have a “deep contusion” which occurred after he was hit by a pitch Sunday. His ability to call a game from behind the plate may be missed, but the day-in, day-out grind of being a starting catcher was clearly wearing on him. He’s hitting just .172 and has struggled to get into a groove offensively this season. Hopefully the break will serve Avila well and he comes back with a better plate approach.
Avila’s absence gives Brayan Pena the opportunity to get even more playing time. The Tigers’ backup catcher was already finding his name on the lineup card much more often and has given the Tigers an offensive boost from the catcher’s position this year.
The biggest winner after all the moves is Avisail Garcia, who gets to return to the Tigers’ lineup after being sent down Friday to make room for Austin Jackson. Garcia, who batted .279 in 25 games, filled in nicely in Jackson’s absence and gives the Tigers a speed threat on the bench they don’t have otherwise. The Tigers have struggled to post runs in the later innings and could use Garcia as a pinch-runner, should the opportunity present itself. It will also be good for him to get even more time in MLB because there’s a good chance he’ll be a part of the team later in the season.