The Detroit Tigers need Daniel Norris… eventually

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MLB: Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians
Apr 14, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Daniel Norris (44) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris made his second rehab assignment in Toledo on Wednesday, pitching just two innings. Norris, who was placed on the disabled list back in early July, left his first rehab start back on July 23 prematurely with an injury, registering just 0.2 innings that day.

On Wednesday, he logged just two innings of work, allowing four earned runs on six hits, striking out just one batter. The 24-year-old has struggled to give Detroit both consistency and quality production this season after showing great promise in his first two seasons.

So what does that mean for the Tigers? They need Daniel Norris… eventually.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers
Apr 9, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Daniel Norris (44) pitches in the second inning against the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

They need him to give them a reason to look forward to the future. They need Norris to come in and be a high-caliber starter, much like his counterpart Michael Fulmer has proven himself to be. As hope dwindles on this team in the 2017 season, there has to be something to look forward to, somewhere – right?

Overall, Norris is performing below average for his capability. Clearly his 5.29 ERA leaves a lot to be desired, though his 4.29 FIP shows he’s been a bit on the unlucky side. But both those numbers pale in comparison to last season’s, when the starter recorded a 3.38 ERA with a 3.92 FIP in just 14 starts, before his season ended in injury.

Really the biggest factor with Norris is his injuries. Every time he gets on a roll, something new seems to put him on the disabled list. Until he shows he can pitch a full season, it will be difficult for the Tigers to depend on him as a starter in an already precarious rotation.

The upside? The Tigers are in no rush. As sellers for the 2017 season, it’s likely we’ll see the clubhouse move more expensive assets this offseason, if they are able to do so. The best thing the Tigers and their fans can do is give Norris some time to figure things out and make a name for himself in the team’s clubhouse. He clearly has the ability to be a top-of-the-rotation type starter in a less-than-competitive organization.

Next up for Norris includes scheduled starts with the Mud Hens on August 21 and 26. Assuming there are no setbacks with his health, Tigers can expect “Van Man” back with the big league club by September.