For the Tigers rotation, back to 1939.


CLEVELAND — George Lombard didn’t ask for sympathy when he talked about the Tigers’ pitching injury on Friday night. The Tigers bench coach, who took over the ailing AJ Hinch, watched as Detroit ace Taric Scubal ran out of the field after a five-inning scoreless inning.

“It is difficult.” Lombard said after the Guardians drove the bullpen rough after a 6-1 loss to the Tigers on progressive field. “But when everyone signed the contract there and in the coach’s room, nobody said it would be easy. It’s too difficult.”

Skubal’s scoreless streak is still intact with the current 19 innings. Most have been Tigers starting pitchers since 2016. More importantly, his leg was not damaged either.

“It’s like being hit in the leg by a comeback, but other than that, it feels good,” said Skubal, who is bandaging his left shin after making contact with a comeback at 100.4 mph. “I will go through each day, but I am very optimistic. “I feel good about what happened and where I hit, and I will do my best to get it started in five days.”

Skubal will be further assessed and tested on Saturday.

But if Lombard was looking for sympathy, he could have looked to the 1939 Tigers.

Dell Baker entered his first regular season as Detroit manager in 1939, replacing great Mickey Cochrane in the middle of the previous year. Baker established himself by breaking the winning record with a 37-19 record, but wielded the starting pitchers in 1939. Schoolboy Rowe missed a few weeks at the beginning of the season and took extra breaks between starts after returning. Byrne Kennedy struggled in four starts and was traded with three other pitchers on a 10-man contract with Detroit rotation joining Bobo Newsom. Al Benton was one of the others who jumped between the rotation and the bullpen.

The 1939 Tigers used 12 different starting pitchers in their first 40 games, a mark that not only remains a franchise record, but most recently shares the AL/NL mark with five other clubs, last year’s Blue Jays. The list includes names such as Henry “Cotton” Pippen, George “Slick” Coffman, Roxie Lawson, George Gill, and Bob Harris. 18-year-old Hal Newhouser picked up 15 other pitchers by the end of the season, including making his MLB debut to begin his Hall of Fame career.

The second 10 other pitchers to start playing for the Tigers this season, after the 1939 club. This year’s numbers will increase on Sunday, the Tigers’ 41st game. Detroit currently does not have a starting roster for that series finale. After starting the season in Detroit’s bullpen, Elvin Rodriguez started this week for Toledo before the Tigers added him to the taxi team. Tuesday’s game in Minnesota also had no starting pitchers. It was Eduardo Rodriguez’s slot machine before the injury.

If the Tigers use a new starter on Sunday and Tuesday, they will match the 1939 club mark with 12 other starters over 50 games. The catalyst for this year’s turnover has been the casualties, not the trade markets or struggles.

With Skubal’s red card, all of the starters in the Tigers’ season-opening rotation were out of the game with some sort of injury.

“We might have to start lighting some sage or something,” Skubal joked. “I’m not sure.” “It is very difficult and a lot of strange things are happening. We are all trying to get our health back and play baseball. It’s just unfortunate.”

Scubal’s injury ended his last bail, limiting Cleveland to four hits and five strikeouts. He sent off 11 of his last 13 batters, and one of the two runners he allowed sent off for stolen bases. A Jose Ramirez three-run home run gave the Guardians control in the sixth inning against Jacob Barnes, who had to rush to warm up while the Tigers batted.

“It felt like there was more left in the tank,” Skubal said. “The out was coming to the ground exactly as I had planned. It’s just a shame I have to get out of the game. That upset me.”

The 1939 Tigers eventually overcome their turnover. They lost 20 of their first 30 games before ending 81-73-1. A year later, Newhauser won the American League pennant in the rotation. The current 13-26 Tigers of the Year are expecting a similar rebound.

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