With the Tigers staying clear of all the big money dropping that the holiday Free Agent season brings, a lot of the talk up to Spring Training will be about the bullpen.
After losing two of it’s late inning arms, the Tigers could be looking for answers in the late innings. When Matt Capps became available after being non-tendered, you would think that the Tigers would jump into the thick of things. I have already expressed my opinion on getting the young guys playing times in the roles they are projected for in the future, but if the Tigers want to put a competitive product on the field, that sells some tickets, then another reliever might be needed.
Matt Capps brings someone with closing experience into the picture that is rather affordable. For less than three million dollars, the Tigers could have their closer situation figured out before February. There are more than ten teams interested in his services in 2010. Even though the Tigers make sense, there has been no link to them. Dave Dombrowski has made quiet signings before, but not in the bullpen. It was highly publicized when the Tigers brought in Brandon Lyon and had hopes of trading for J.J. Putz last season. Maybe the Tigers feel they can’t financially afford him or don’t want to overpay him because the desire of many teams to bring him will inflate his value/asking price.
Or maybe the Tigers just don’t think he brings anything extra to the table.
After a sub par 4-8 season with a 5.80 ERA, many question if Capps’ ability has hit it’s peak. Sure, he converted 27 of 32 save opportunities, but he gave up an astonishing .324 average against. Though he was put into a lot of inherited baserunners, Capps gave up an inexcusable amount of hits, which is something you don’t want to see from your closer. In 54+ innings pitched, the righty gave up 73 hits. Though he threw more strikes last season than he did in the previous, his control was all over the strike zone… and not in a good way. In games I watched, the fastball that he threw 93 percent of the time in 2009 just doesn’t have the same zip on it.
If your are looking for a set up reliever to get out of jams, then Capps isn’t the guy. With runners on last season, he had a 9.10 ERA. A lot of the runs given up have to do with balls hit in play, but in 28 innings pitched with runners on, Capps walked ten batters.
Looking him to come into a jam with two outs and runners in scoring position? Well he isn’t a guy to throw in the fire, because his pitching is coated with gasoline. In seven innings of work with two outs and runners in scoring position, Capps gave up 18 earned runs. He walked five in that situation, which is also scary. It is expected that a reliever is going to get stuck in some of those situations, but he gave about 2.5 runs per inning.
Personally, I rather hope that the market closes on Fernando Rodney and that he returns to Detroit on a one-year deal.
And it’s not because his numbers are better in those situations, because quite frankly Rodney is a ticking time bomb with runners in scoring position.
With no runners on and none out, Rodney was a better pitcher hands down. He gave up one earned run in 15 innings. He did walk 16, but somehow he found a way to silence hitters with nobody on.
All in all, at this point as a fan I rather see the Tigers stay in house. Let’s see what the kids can do in tight situations.