A double dose of bad news Thursday afternoon — the benching of blogger heartthrob Magglio Ordoñez and the re-disabling of Dontrelle Willis — was slightly diffused with Rick Porcello's win over the St. Louis Cardinals, halting a four-game yuck streak. Right in the middle of interleague action, another new face to Detroit will try and pitch some good news to Tigertown.
His name's Alfredo Figaro. He's Fernando Rodney's cousin, but don't hate him for that association. He might actually turn out okay.
His numbers last year in Single-A were unreal. In 123 innings, he struck out 98 and allowed 99 hits — nary a one being a home run. That 2.56 ERA will probably be as good as it gets for him, because his Double-A numbers this year have been a little shakier. He's struck out more batters, but the dingers have been flowing from his fingertips quite rapidly (eight in 68 innings). But his walk numbers are solid, which'll be quite a test when he starts Saturday against a very patient Milwaukee Brewers team.
The last pitcher Detroit called up directly from Double-A to make his major league start was Jair Jurrjens in 2007, who is now spoiling the Braves' rotation with his efficient starts. (But, hey, it was worth giving him away. I mean, Edgar Renteria was fun for a year, am I right? [smashes head against desk]) Another guy who walked the same path, driving right through Toledo without stopping (as many road trippers are prone to do), was Justin Verlander. So he's in good company, although Figaro is probably more similar to Jurrjens than Verlander.
With Willis and Jeremy Bonderman both on their second tour of duty on the DL this year, Armando Galarraga's woes, and Jim Leyland's refusal to plug Zach Miner or Nate Robertson back into the rotation (although who can blame him for the latter?), there's no other guy in Toledo that really can start tomorrow. Eddie Bonine? Chris Lambert? They tried them last year and it didn't quite work out. Why not roll the dice on an unknown commodity?