Detroit Tigers place Eduardo Rodriguez on 15-day injured list with hurt left index finger

The Detroit Tigers have lost their best player to an injury.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, the undisputed ace of the rotation, injured his left index finger while pitching in the sixth inning of Sunday's win against the Chicago White Sox. The Tigers placed him on the 15-day injured list Tuesday, retroactive to Monday, with a pulley rupture.

Rodriguez, 30, is expected to miss at least his next two starts.

"It's always hard to lose one of your better players," Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said Tuesday. "That goes without saying. But it's one of five days. It should not impact game two, three, four and five in that. We will feel that impact because it's Eduardo, but we can't spent a lot of time thinking about that and worrying about that. We've got to get him healthy. We'll continue to hope that it's a quick return."

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Detroit Tigers pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez throws against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning at Comerica Park in Detroit on Sunday, May 28, 2023.
Detroit Tigers pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez throws against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning at Comerica Park in Detroit on Sunday, May 28, 2023.

In 11 starts, Rodriguez has a 2.13 ERA with 16 walks and 67 strikeouts across 67⅔ innings. He owns a phenomenal 1.40 ERA in his past nine starts, dating back to April 12. His 1.7 fWAR ranks 13th among 70 qualified pitchers.

Rodriguez reported the finger injury after Sunday's start.

He received an MRI and multiple medical opinions before being diagnosed with a ruptured A4 pulley of his left index finger. The Tigers will consider allowing Rodriguez to start a throwing program after he rests for the next 7-10 days.

"It's difficult when one of the best players goes down," said infielder Jonathan Schoop, whose locker is next to Rodriguez's in the Tigers clubhouse, on Tuesday. "But it's important for a new guy to step in. We have the minor leagues to develop guys to step in, help us win and make a name for themselves. I think it's a chance for another guy to step in. We're going to move forward with it, and he's going to be back soon."

The Tigers recalled right-handed reliever Braden Bristo from Triple-A Toledo to take Rodriguez's spot on the active roster and provide bullpen depth, but he isn't expected to stick around.

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Right-hander Reese Olson is the leading candidate to take Rodriguez's spot in the rotation and start Friday against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Olson, 23, is on the Tigers' 40-man roster but would need to be added to the 26-man roster.

Olson has a 6.38 ERA with 22 walks and 47 strikeouts across 36⅔ innings in 10 starts for the Mud Hens this season, though he has been much better in his past three starts: a 1.26 ERA with six walks and 22 strikeouts across 14⅓ innings.

"When all this stuff came together, we started thinking and mapping out different things and different scenarios," Hinch said. "Give us a day and we'll probably have more information."

The Tigers also placed Matt Vierling on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Monday, with low back soreness. He will travel with the Tigers for their upcoming series against the White Sox.

"We'll see how much baseball activity we can engage him with," Hinch said.

Rodriguez, who signed a five-year, $77 million contract in November 2021, has an opt-out clause in his contract after this season.

Nevin's return

The Tigers recalled Tyler Nevin, a 26-year-old utility player, from Triple-A Toledo to replace Vierling on the active roster.

Nevin has played 10 games for the Tigers this season, from April 13-29, before his demotion to Toledo. He hit a three-run home run against the Baltimore Orioles in his final game.

"I tried to get back in my groove," Nevin said Tuesday. "I tried not to do anything too specific but find my consistency again. I think a lot of that is a testament to the guys that are down there (in Toledo). It's a really fun group."

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Detroit Tigers infielder Tyler Nevin runs bases during spring training at TigerTown in Lakeland, Fla., on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023.
Detroit Tigers infielder Tyler Nevin runs bases during spring training at TigerTown in Lakeland, Fla., on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023.

In May, Nevin hit .263 with seven doubles, one home run, seven walks and 19 strikeouts in 24 games with Triple-A Toledo. He has played 33 games for the Mud Hens in total this season, hitting .331 with two homers, 10 walks (7.0% walk rate) and 21 strikeouts (14.8% strikeout rate).

Nevin, who turned 26 on Monday, played left field (95 innings), first base (78 innings) and third base (77 innings) with Toledo. He played third base (29⅔ innings), left field (8 innings) and first base (3 innings) in his 10-game stint with the Tigers.

For the Tigers, Nevin hit .091 (2-for-22) with three walks and seven strikeouts in 10 games. On April 29, the Tigers optioned Nevin to Triple-A Toledo and replaced him on the roster with infielder Zack Short.

"The strength of a team is depth," Nevin said. "I'm just excited to be a part of some meaningful games. We're right in the thick of things (in the standings), so those are fun games to play in. Those (games) are good for everybody's development. Those (games) are good for organizations, good for cities. I'm excited."

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Eduardo Rodriguez (finger) lands on Detroit Tigers' 15-day IL