A tough day for Tigers rookie Charlie Furbush all around today. Making his second start of the season today Furbush got shelled by the Royals, allowing nine hits and a pair of walks in just two and two thirds innings of work. It's likely that the damage could've been lessened had shortstop Ramon Santiago not allowed what should've been the final out of the third inning to scoot between his legs - after which the Royals pounded out five more runs (all unearned of course) on top of the four they had put up earlier in the game.
Tonight the Tigers have announced that they've optioned him back to AAA and recalled utilityman Danny Worth. Much like the demotion of Royals pitcher Danny Duffy however, the move could quite possibly have been nothing more than the teams desire to keep Furbush on his regular schedule through the All-Star break.
Of course after having allowed a .906 OPS against righties over 67 at-bats, the Tigers might also simply think that Furbush isn't quite ready to start in the Major Leagues, after all, getting righties out in AAA is something he struggled with to some extent as well. When the decision was made to place Furbush in the rotation, these struggles were something that I warned about and were the reason for the title of the post.
Thankfully to say, the young man has the tools available to him to get righties out - a solid change up in particular - but his sheer unwillingness to throw the pitch (he didn't throw it once last night) is hurting him as much as anything. His stuff is probably good enough to profile as a back end starter, even though his struggles against righties will hardly be eliminated, but he's going to need to show greater faith in his changeup instead of relying solely on his fastball and curveball.
Should the Tigers choose to make Charlie's demotion to AAA a long term one in which he's made to improve his changeup, and his willingness to throw it, then it's possible the team could either return Phil Coke to the rotation, or perhaps give rookie lefty Adam Wilk a shot at the job. In any case the Tigers will need to find a way to strengthen the back end of their rotation which, beyond ace Justin Verlander has really faltered since the beginning of June.