Look out Below: Tigers still looking for starter

Duane Below arguably deserved a better fate in his second Major League start for the Tigers Monday night, whether it was the low pickoff throw that first baseman Miguel Cabrera dug out but couldn’t ready to fire to second, or the two potential third strikes that were close but weren’t called in the decisive fifth inning.

All in all, it was a better outing than his four runs over 4 2/3 innings. In another situation, he arguably has done enough to deserve another look or two in Detroit’s rotation. But with a pennant race heating up, the July 31 trade deadline approaching and both manager Jim Leyland and president/general manager Dave Dombrowski in the final year of their contracts, it won’t stop the Tigers’ search for a more proven arm for their rotation.

The Tigers continue to scout arms around the league, and most likely will for the next day or two. Once the Tigers return home Thursday, scouts and officials will be comparing notes. Hiroki Kuroda remains the most mentioned name in rumors, but Derek Lowe, Aaron Harang, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Vargas and Doug Fister have all been included as well, among others.

Below’s spot in the rotation comes up on Saturday against the Angels, the same team that faced Charlie Furbush in his first Major League start a few weeks ago. Unless a trade comes together in the next couple days, Below is expected to get that start. Will that be Below’s final start, for now at least? Well, there are two ways are looking at it.

The trade deadline is Sunday afternoon, so if the Tigers have another starter — and they’re very much expected to add somebody, whether it’s a bigger name or a smaller one — he’ll be in place for next week. Plus, the Tigers have next Monday off, so they can tinker with their rotation to fit in whoever they get. Sunday, the day of the trade deadline, is Verlander’s spot, so he could come back and pitch the next Friday at Kansas City. With two series against the Indians in a two-week span, where Verlander slots is important.

— Jason Beck

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