RANGERS (42-36) AT TIGERS (26-47)
7:10 p.m. ET; FS-D, FSSE, MLB.TV
Veteran right-hander Jesse Chavez makes his fifth start of the season Tuesday, but this one will be a bit different.
Primarily a long reliever for the Texas Rangers, Chavez, 35, was used as an “opener” in his previous starts before giving way in the early innings. He’ll get a more traditional start at Detroit on Tuesday when the Rangers begin a three-game series against the Tigers.
For the time being, Chavez will take the spot previously held by left-hander Drew Smyly, who was designated for assignment last week after posting a 1-5 mark and 8.42 ERA.
In whatever role he’s been asked to fill, Chavez has been highly effective lately. He has an 0.58 ERA in his past 21 appearances. Overall, he’s 2-2 with a 3.18 ERA.
He gave up one run in five innings in a long relief appearance Wednesday against Cleveland.
“He has done a great job for us,” manager Chris Woodward told MLB.com. “The fact that we were able to extend him out the last two times, he’ll be able to throw 75-80 pitches the next time out, which is nice. At least it won’t be a two-to-three inning start. It will actually be a legitimate start. I love him in the bullpen, but we can use him in the rotation.”
Chavez is 1-4 with a 5.77 ERA in 16 career outings against Detroit, including four starts.
The Rangers will receive a boost if slugging outfielder Joey Gallo returns to the lineup during the series, as expected. He suffered a left oblique strain on June 1 and has missed three weeks. In four minor league rehab games, he hit .273 (3-for-11) with two home runs and three RBIs.
“We thought originally there might be some limitations in the outfield because that was how he hurt it originally, it wasn’t even swinging,” Woodward said. “But I don’t think there’s going to be really any limitations as far as the way he feels right now. As long as there’s no setback, he should be good to go.”
Gallo had a .276 average with 17 homers and 41 RBIs prior to the injury.
Chavez will face a Detroit team that has been in a freefall since May 12. Since a win that day that moved the Tigers to two games under .500 at 18-20, the Tigers have gone 8-27. They enter Tuesday’s game having lost eight of their past nine games.
Cleveland swept a three-game series from them for the second straight weekend.
Manager Ron Gardenhire has been forced to be creative with his lineup because of injuries. Catcher Grayson Greiner and infielders Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer all are on the injured list. As a result, mental and physical lapses have piled up.
“Yeah, repeat offenses, but that’s who we are,” Gardenhire told the Detroit News. “That’s who we have. You’re relying on guys who aren’t playing their best positions. We’re playing guys all over the field because we have to. It’s not a perfect scenario.”
Detroit right-hander Jordan Zimmermann will be making his second start on Tuesday since recovering from a UCL sprain in his pitching elbow that cost him nearly two months.
Zimmermann (0-4, 6.03 ERA) gave up three runs on five hits in four innings at Pittsburgh last Wednesday. Detroit has lost the past five games that Zimmermann has started.
Zimmermann has been credited with just one win in his 14 starts dating back to last season. He’s only faced the Rangers twice in his career, going 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA.
–Field Level Media