Mailbag: Decision '09 for rotation

Mailbag: Decision '09 for rotation

Any word on the Tigers' plans for next year's rotation? I expect Justin Verlander, Armando Galarraga, and Jeremy Bonderman are locks to make it. Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson are question marks, despite being signed for next season. They also have Zach Miner, Kenny Rogers and Freddy Garcia as possibilities.
-- Kevin O., Milford, Mich.

Verlander and Galarraga are pretty much set for next year, and Bonderman appears to be a safe bet if he's healthy. While the Tigers haven't set anything for Miner for next year, his performance as a starter certainly is making his case for next year. However, there are too many questions to really be able to plan out a full rotation with a month left to go. They haven't seen Garcia pitch a big league game yet. Robertson has another month in which he can try to get back the consistency in his slider. With Willis, it's hard to say what the plan is for the end of this season, let alone next year, depending on how he works with coaches down the stretch and into the offseason. Rogers' contract is up at season's end, and he has to decide his plans for next year.

What late-season callups can we expect? With the Tigers seemingly out of it, I would think more guys will come up than if we were making a serious run for the playoffs.
-- Rick H., Portland, Tenn.

The Tigers recalled Willis and Freddy Dolsi from Triple-A Toledo on Monday, and they'll be joined by Dusty Ryan, Clay Rapada and Mike Hessman on Tuesday after the Mud Hens' season ends. Manager Jim Leyland said that he's going to keep playing his regular lineup, so most of the moves are for depth purposes.

Does Dusty Ryan have a chance to make the Tigers next year as a backup catcher?
-- Anthony M., Vancleave, Miss.

That's going to depend on whether the Tigers think Ryan is better served catching every day at the Triple-A level next year or doing an apprenticeship behind Brandon Inge in the big leagues. Leyland said before Monday's game that he didn't expect Ryan to play a bunch while he's here, so you can't really look at this September as a tryout in that regard.

Will the Tigers go out this offseason and try to find a new catcher or will they let Inge keep the job? And will this season's offseason be as big as last offseason?
-- Sean, St. Clair, Mich.

Inge will be the starting catcher next season. As for the second question, I wouldn't count on any offseason being as big as the last one for a while. That's not something you're going to see very often.

Could you tell me what the ropes are that some players wear around their neck? They look like bicycle locks, Curtis Granderson always has one or two around his neck. May seem like a silly question, but even seasoned baseball watchers don't know.
-- Janis B., Windsor, Ont.

Those are necklaces that contain titanium, which is advertised to relieve stress and fatigue and promote good health.

You answered four questions in the last mailbag, and two of them were from the same person? What gives?
-- Craig, Flint, Mich.

Those were two relevant questions from David M. in Pinckney, Mich. They just happened to come from the same person.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.