Tigers top prospect took the mound once again this afternoon, this time in a relief role. After his rough start last time out, I am sure Tigers management and fans alike were pulling for the young man to put together a much better outing than the last time out. Turner in 1.2 innings against the Mets this afternoon allowed 6 runs, 5 earned, which included giving up a grand slam to Lucas Duda. Turner so far in 4 innings of spring work has walked 6 batters and in general has struggled even when he hasn’t given up runs.
The Tigers top prospect has clearly struggled, and even though spring results don’t tell us everything, if much at all, he is clearly not putting himself ahead of the competition. While Jacob Turner has been busy giving people who don’t think he is ready fodder, Andy Oliverhas begun to stand out from the pack.
The hard throwing lefty pitched in today’s game, and while he may not be talked about as much as starter Drew Smyly and Turner, Oliver put together a strong performance today, at one point throwing 14 straight strikes. All in all, Oliver went 4 innings today and didn’t allow one runner to reach via the walk. This is obviously what Oliver is going to have to do going forward to convince the Tigers management that he is the guy for the 5th starter job. At the very least, Oliver is going to make the Tigers consider him as the last reliever on their roster if he keeps it up.
It has never been debated the kind of stuff that Andy Oliver possesses. His easy mid 90’s fastball and low 90’s cutter is impressive, and at times he has shown a good slider and a change up. Consistency has always been the issue with Oliver, both with his command and with his ability to throw his secondary pitches. Word is, Oliver has had a pretty sharp slider working so far in the spring, and this is going to be key to him succeeding in the major leagues. That, and throwing strikes.
Today, Oliver threw strikes. I would caution those against getting too excited about one spring outing however, Oliver was pitching against most of the backups at that point of the game. He has only had two outings against major leaguers in the spring so far, and one of those he walked 3 batters in 3 innings. Inconsistent. Despite not allowing any runs, he isn’t going to be able to do that in a regular season, and walks will drive Manager Jim Leyland nuts.
I’ve been on record, and still believe that, Andy Oliver is better suited to work out of the bullpen. He might even be a fantastic late-inning reliever in the mold of Billy Wagner. His arm is that good. His command and his sometimes on/off breaking pitches keep me from getting too excited about his starting prospects.
But on a day where the Tigers top prospect get roughed up a bit, I thought I would spread some good news about a Tigers prospect. Oliver has a chance to be a heck of a good story, let’s hope he takes advantage.