Justin Verlander Not Placed on Disabled List by Detroit Tigers on Tuesday


Mar 27, 2015; Dunedin, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher

Justin Verlander

(35) throws a pitch in the first inning of the spring training game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers didn’t place Justin Verlander on the disabled list on Tuesday as most people expected they would. This fact (quite ironically) likely spells bad news.

Verlander, despite being out since March 27, is currently taking up one of the 25 spots on the active roster. The Tigers wanted to wait as long as they could before making a DL decision with their star pitcher for two reasons: (1) to see if he could make a start on Sunday, April 12 and (2) to determine who would best fill his spot on the 25-man roster.

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Popular thought went something like this: if he looks ready to go on Sunday, the team would place him on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to March 28), call up a relief pitcher from Toledo for a few games, and then activate Verlander in time for Sunday’s game (the first game that necessitates a fifth starting pitcher). He he doesn’t look ready to go, the team would place him on the 15-day disabled list, call up a starting pitcher, and proceed without Verlander for a time.

That all made sense until Tuesday evening when MLive’s Chris Iott reported that the team would not be making a move that day.

It seems a curious decision by the Tigers, one that adds little clarity to Verlander’s situation. All we know is that he now can’t be placed on the disabled list and still be activated in time to start on Sunday. What it probably could mean is one of two things:

1. Not only is Verlander good to go for Sunday, but he’s good to go sooner than that. They’re keeping him off the DL so he can pitch in the series opener in Cleveland on Friday.

2. There’s no way he can pitch on Sunday so there was no reason to hurry to make a roster move on Tuesday afternoon.

Number one above seems very unlikely. There would seem to be little benefit to pushing a potentially injured pitcher up three days while giving up the opportunity to carry an extra bullpen arm for a few games. I think we’re looking at number two; that Verlander is probably going to miss at least the one start.

John Wagner of the Toledo Blade provides additional information to this end:

Kyle Ryan and Blaine Hardy would be two of the top bullpen call-up options for the Tigers. Kyle Lobstein would be the top starting pitcher call up option. Maybe Lobstein missed the Toledo Mud Hens media day for other reasons, but maybe he missed it because he was already on his way to Detroit to join the team.

Either way, we’ll know for sure ahead of Wednesdays game. There’s no reason to proceed any longer with only 24 active players, so either Verlander is declared fit to return to the team or they make an official DL move and call up another arm from the minor leagues. Smart money is on the disabled list which would lead to the next question: how long will he be out?