Reprinted with permission by Michael Lustgarten, PhD.
Jacob Turner, 20 years old and 6’5, 210 lbs. made his major league debut with the Tigers on July 31, 2011, and allowed 3 earned runs in 5.2 innings. Not bad, but this was a 1 start deal, with Turner returned to the minors regardless of his performance. When can Tigers fans expect Turner as a permanent member of the rotation? To properly address this question, me must first take a look at Turner’s minor league performance.
Turner was drafted as the 9thoverall pick in the first round of the 2009 MLB draft, but did not pitch in 2009. In 2010 Turner bypassed pitching in the rookie-league, beginning his career in low A, and, after 10 starts and 54 innings pitched, was promoted to high A-ball. In total, Turner’s cumulative stats in A-ball
were a 6-5 record, a 3.28 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP, in 115 innings pitched. In comparison, Madison Bumgarner at 18 years old in low-A ball recorded a 15-3 record, a 1.46 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP and 141 innings pitched. While not elite level stats for a 19 year old pitcher in A-ball (when compared with Bumgarner), Turner’s 2010 stats were solid enough to earn him a promotion to AA in 2011.
Although Turner has not dominated AA-ball in 2011, his 3.48 ERA, 6.7 innings pitched per start (114 innings total) and 1.18 WHIP were solid enough to grant his promotion to the Tigers on July 31. Following his major league debut, Turner was sent to AAA Toledo, where it is expected he will make 5 more starts this year, bringing his innings pitched total to approximately 150. This is a jump of 35 innings, when compared with 2010. I don’t expect Turner to be a September call-up-it seems as if the Tigers want to be conservative about Turner’s innings limit, considering his young age.
So what can we expect from Turner in 2012? A full year in AAA Toledo is likely, followed by a few innings pitched in September with the Tigers, assuming he is able to pitch well in AAA. Unless Brad Penny piches poorly/gets injured next year, the Tigers’ rotation of Verlander, Porcello, Scherzer and Fister will be a tough one to crack should Turner not pitch better than he has this year. It’s important to note that the Tigers have stretched out Turner in between starts in AA in 2011. In other words, Turner has not consistently pitched every 5 days, as would be expected in the major leagues. Only 6 of Turner’s 18 starts this season have been on 4 days rest; 5 have been on 5 days rest; 1 start on 6 days rest, 1 start on 7 days rest, and 4 starts on 9 days rest. On average, every third start for Turner has not been on a normal (4 or 5 days) rest schedule. I expect that the Tigers will not stretch out Turner in 2012, thereby allowing him to pitch every 5 days, and, without an innings limit. As a result, Turner should reach 150-180 total innings pitched. Whether this is in AAA or with the Tigers depends on Brad Penny, and, on how well Turner pitches for Toledo in 2012.
Published by Michael Lustgarten, PhD
Filed under: 2012: USA Minor League Player Updates