ST. PETERSBURG -- As baseball awaits the Tigers' direction at Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the team is at least looking to get one boost to its pitching staff either way. Kyle Lobstein is close to beginning a rehab assignment as he works his way back from a sore left shoulder that has sidelined him since late May.
Lobstein is scheduled to throw to hitters in Lakeland later this week, which likely will set up a rehab assignment. He'll be stretched out as a starter on rehab, suggesting the Tigers intend to have him as a late-season rotation option rather than an extra lefty reliever sooner rather than later.
That could be important. Whichever direction the Tigers go at the Deadline, they're likely to need help for a rotation that has been woefully shaky after the veteran top three of David Price, Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander. Alfredo Simon showed improvement in his last start after struggling for the better part of a month, while Buck Farmer has replaced struggling Shane Greene at the back end.
Few would've imagined Lobstein being that much of a presence this summer, despite the help he gave Detroit's playoff hopes with his fill-in starts for Sanchez down the stretch. Lobstein went 3-5 in eight starts filling in for Verlander early in the season, but his losses generally were close -- a pair of 3-2 defeats, a 4-1 loss and a 5-2 decision among them. He gave the Tigers a chance to win, and he generally gave them innings, pitching into the sixth in six of his eight outings.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.