Jarrod Washburn Falls to Injury: Who Is Left to Start for Detroit?

George McGinnieCorrespondent ISeptember 16, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 25:  Jarrod Washburn #53 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the first inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 25, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Or: Will the last pitcher in Detroit please turn off the light?

It quickly became apparent Tuesday: Jarrod Washburn's season in Detroit may just be over. The Tigers have quickly fallen from too many starting pitchers to just three.

In late August, right-handed starter Armando Galarraga had to rest his elbow. He has allowed nine runs in 4-2/3 innings since returning to the team. Next!

On Sep. 11, lefty-starter Nate Robertson left the game with, direct quote here, "pelvic inflammation." He also left the rotation. He was slated to rejoin the bullpen when he was able to pitch again. Next!

Yesterday, after already skipping a start due to soreness in his knee, trade deadline acquisition Washburn threw batting practice for an inning before being removed by Tigers trainer Kevin Rand.

For sure, he will miss his next start, the Tigers say. In all likelihood, he'll miss more than just that. Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi reports Washburn may be done for the season.

Detroit News reporter Amelia Rayno added, via Twitter:

Washburn looked...close to the point of tears tonight as he told media, "I don't know why they would want me to pitch, I've been terrible."

Well then. What a revoltin' development this is.

Not that Washburn has been good since coming to Detroit. A rough calculation put his ERA at 7.50 since joining the Tigers rotation.

As is the case in Minnesota, where slugger Justin Morneau was recently lost for the season, he has been so bad the past six weeks the Tigers might actually improve by having the luxury of putting someone else into the game.

On the other hand, losing Washburn and Morneau means the teams cannot continue to believe a key player is going to turn his season around before it is too late. Nope. That dream playoff rotation the Tigers had is gone. Now they have to duct tape a rotation together for the next three weeks just to make the playoffs.

Thank goodness the rosters expanded on Sep. 1, because the Tigers have had to go to their bullpen more and more lately just to make it through the game without a position player taking the mound.

Zach Miner pitched in relief of Washburn for two innings, but the long reliever was then pulled from the game. Why? Not because his services would be needed as a starter in five days. Manager Jim Leyland likely feared he'd need to use Miner again soon. As Royals-still-a-pain--Jarrod-Washburn-leaves-hurting" target="_blank">Leyland said, Miner is "too valuable in the bullpen."

Leyland also said:

"We're dealing with ifs and buts instead of candy and nuts."

I think he's losing his mind.

So, what now?

The Tigers' rotation consists of Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, a tiring 20-year-old Rick Porcello, and September call-up Eddie Bonine.

Jeremy Bonderman is not an option. He never stretched out past two innings since his rehab assignment began. Robertson might be an option when he's healthy again, and word is he's feeling a bit better.

Potentially, minor league starter Alfredo Figaro will fill the final rotation spot in the meantime. The Tigers recalled him when the minor league season ended, though they did not add him to their active roster at the time. Today, they did.

Figaro pitched two games for Detroit. In his debut, the cousin of closer Fernando Rodney shut down the Brewers quite well. In his second game, he looked like a rookie. And then he was shut down with a wrist injury.

Figaro appeared in 12 innings for Double-A Erie in relief, after returning from his injury in August. He struck out 10, walked six, and allowed one earned run.

Ten days ago, the Tigers led the division by seven games, and September baseball appeared as if it might actually be an enjoyable experience.

So much for that.

No wonder Leyland appears to be losing his mind.