Bosio: It’s up to Tigers’ Daniel Norris to decide if he’s a starter

April 19, 2018

Detroit — Tigers pitching coach Chris Bosio isn’t going to talk about whatever medical issues he dealt with in Cleveland last week that kept him away from the team for a week.

That’s his right and he’s not budging.

But he’s more than happy to talk about his pitching staff.

“The guys have been doing good,” he said. “It’s been a really tough season thus far, just trying to get the starters on a five-day plan and getting in work for all the relievers. But every team has had to deal with it.”

The temperature was expected to climb above 50 degrees Thursday, but for the most part, the Tigers and other teams in the northern and eastern parts of the country have played in sub-40-degree chill.

“Unless you are out there doing it, you can’t say, ‘I know what it feels like,’ ” Bosio said. “I know what it felt like at County Stadium (in Milwaukee) with the wind coming off the lake. But I don’t know what it’s like on back-to-back-to-back 33-degree days with snow and sleet falling.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that.”

The Tigers rank seventh in the American League in ERA (3.90) and fifth in WHIP (1.24), which is a marked improvement over last season when they ranked at the bottom in nearly all pitching categories.

“I’ve been encouraged by their involvement in what we’re trying to do,” Bosio said. “It’s a change for them, more tedious on a lot of things. But they’ve been great. But we need to play some days in a row to really see it all unfold.”

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Bosio was asked about left-hander Daniel Norris, whether, in a perfect world, would he be best suited to be a starter or reliever?

“I can’t make that determination because of where we’re at, with the weather and what our needs are,” Bosio said. “I don’t know if there is a perfect world or that you would ever be able to follow that script. ... We decided as a group to put him in there.”

Norris, who has pitched twice in long relief, will make a spot start Friday in the second game of a doubleheader against the Royals. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Wednesday the club was still debating whether to send him back to Toledo and let him start every five days.

“I don’t know if Daniel Norris is a going to be a starter or reliever,” Bosio said. “Daniel Norris will tell us based on his performance. These guys make our decisions for us based on how they play.

“It’s not like we sit around and go, ‘This, this and this.’ Ultimately, they force our hand based on how they perform. It’s always been that way.”

Two of the early success stories this season have been reliever Joe Jimenez and starter Matthew Boyd. Bosio said the Tigers’ beefed-up analytics have benefited both.

“There are analytics things they’ve never seen or applied before,” Bosio said. “So you are seeing some results from guys who have a little bit more information. And we’re seeing what guys can handle the information.

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“Boyd and Jimenez, they have more information, and information is a very powerful thing. When applied properly, you get results.”

Boyd has allowed one run or less in each of his first three starts. That despite a noted decrease in his fastball velocity — from 93 mph to 90-91.

“It’s been 33 degrees,” Bosio said. “Don’t be quick to judge velocity when they are pitching in a snow storm.”

Jimenez has yet to allow a run this season and is locking down the eighth-inning set-up role.

“It’s his second time through the league,” Bosio said. “He doesn’t have a lot of sample size against anybody, nor them against him. It’s a two-way battle.

“He’s matured a little bit as a pitcher and he’s going to mature a lot more. He’s been all in on the information and has applied it well. I look for more improvement out of him.”

A roster add

Gardenhire said before the game no decision had been made yet on who the Tigers will add to their roster for Game 2 of the doubleheader Friday. Teams are allowed to add a 26th roster spot for makeup doubleheaders.

“It all depends on what happens today and many innings you have to use your bullpen, how long your starter goes,” he said. “We will make a decision after the game today.”

The Tigers already are carrying an extra pitcher.

“If we don’t have to use much pitching today, we could probably use a position player for the second game,” Gardenhire said. “We are so thin on the bench.”

Around the horn

... Over his last seven starts dating to last season, Matthew Boyd has posted a 2.00 ERA and limited opponents to a .169 batting average.

... The Tigers are 6 for 6 on video challenges this season.

... Entering play Thursday, the Tigers had scored 31 of their 59 runs this season from the seventh inning on. That’s the third most in the American League.