Adam Wilk pitched on Sunday, going 7 1/3 IP, giving up 5 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 1 walk and striking out 4. He made 1 mistake, a grand slam. On the season in Toledo, he has a stat line of 3.40 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 6.62 K/9, 1.79 BB/9, 3.88 FIP in 50 1/3 innings. When it was time to replace Doug Fister again, the Tigers turned to Casey Crosby (4.26 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 10.13 K/9, 4.62 BB/9, 3.52 FIP) instead of giving Adam Wilk another chance.
Now, I’m not saying that they made the wrong choice. It’s not always about the stats when it comes to the development of prospects. They had already tried Adam Wilk once this year and it didn’t go so well (11 IP, 8.81 ERA, 2.18 WHIP, 5.73 K/9, 2.45 BB/9, 7.29 FIP). Trying someone else to see if they can catch lightning in a bottle sometimes works (look at Quintin Berry).
Casey Crosby’s walk-a-thon of a start didn’t go exactly as the Tigers had hoped, but they are giving him another start. Fair enough, they gave Adam Wilk 3 starts. However, Adam Wilk is making it very hard for people (well me) to forget about him.
Wilk could be getting a little lucky, as his BABIP is a very low .226 while giving up 20.8% LD. He doesn’t have a high GB%, 35.1%, but his SIERA is a respectable 3.86. Opponents are only hitting .210/.246/.360 against him. What’s really impressive is that he’s getting right-handed batters out (.191/.222/.303 batting against). That combined with the fact that he’s averaging over 6 innings/start shows that he could stay as a starter.
Wilk’s best asset is that he limits the amount of walks; he’s never allowed more than 2 walks per nine innings in the minors. He’s not going to wow you with his strikeouts, only striking out about 6.5 batters per nine innings. He works almost the exact opposite way of Casey Crosby, who has a great strikeout rate but a below average walk rate. Wilk throws an 87 MPH fastball, a cutter, a curveball and a changeup. He doesn’t throw fast and doesn’t strike guys out; these type of pitchers don’t typically last long in the Tigers organization.
When Fister is healthy and Duane Below doing well in the bullpen (2.63 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 7.13 IP, 1.13 BB/9, 2.89 FIP) there’s seemingly no room for Wilk, especially seeing that Crosby and possibly Jacob Turner later this year are higher on the depth chart. My prediction is that the Tigers are going to use Wilk as trade bait when the deadline approaches. They could call him up and “showcase” him to other teams at the ML level, maybe even giving him a start or 2 (similar to Charlie Furbush last year).
The Tigers don’t have much in trade bait in the minors and it looks like they are going to have to make a move or 2 at the deadline. Adam Wilk continuing to do well could be one of the best things to happen to the Tigers this year.