CHICAGO -- For the second time in 24 hours, the Tigers had to cut a reliever who seemed to be in line for a September callup. This time, it was right-hander Justin Miller, who was designated for assignment on Saturday morning to make room for Kyle Ryan on the 40-man roster.
The Tigers signed Miller as a Minor League free agent last fall, taking a chance that his power fastball and nasty slider could make an impact two years removed from Tommy John surgery. The 27-year-old right-hander spent three different stints in Detroit this season -- most recently as a one-day callup in mid-August. But he never found a role, allowing seven earned runs on 14 hits over 12 1/3 innings in eight appearances. He struck out just five, while walking two.
The numbers were surprising, given Miller's dominant season at Triple-A Toledo, where he allowed just nine runs on 30 hits over 44 2/3 innings with 12 walks and 39 strikeouts.
The move further limits the number of extra relievers the Tigers will have available for callups once rosters expand on Monday. Detroit designated fellow Toledo righty Jose Ortega for assignment on Friday to make room for Evan Reed. At this point, their 40-man-roster options for bullpen help are Ian Krol, Melvin Mercedes, Chad Smith and Jose Valdez. Smith, who had a stint in Detroit this summer, was demoted to Double-A Erie two weeks ago, while Valdez has a 4.09 ERA as Erie's closer.
Manager Brad Ausmus said he was expecting to discuss potential September callups with team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski between games during Saturday's day-night doubleheader.