March 11, 2012; Clearwater, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Daniel Schlereth (55) throws a pitch in the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Networks Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Ranking The A.L. Central Lefty Relievers


One spot, or spots, on the Detroit Tigers roster that seems to be spoken for is our lefty reliever situation. In effect, the guys that are going to come in and on most nights pitch to just a couple of batters, mainly tough lefties, then get on out of there. Of course, a lefty reliever not only has to be able to get left-handed hitters out, but also get some right handers out as well. Since Daniel Schlereth and Phil Cokeare all but entrenched in the bullpen, I thought I would compare them to the other Central division foes bullpen lefties, and rank them in who I believe has the best situation.

It’s not scientific, though I will take into account how they fair against both lefties and righties, and things like walks, strikeouts, ERA, and a host of other stats to help make the determination. First, I got to find out who the lefty relievers are. I will be using MLB.com for the depth chart of the teams that will help make the determination.

Minnesota: Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing

Chicago: Matt Thornton, Will Ohman

Cleveland: Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp

Detroit: Daniel Schlereth, Phil Coke

Kansas City: Tim Collins, Jose Mijares

5. Kansas City

While I didn’t think I would come to this conclusion, I think I have to. Overall, Kansas City has a potentially fantastic bullpen, but their lefties aren’t the strong suit. It’s a possibility that Everett Teaford wins the job over Mijares, and I think the Royals would be better off if that was the case. These two guys walk a ton of batters between them. Mijares is trending the wrong way, and although I am a big fan of Collins’, he needs to cut the walk rate. Collins is pretty nasty against both righties and lefties, but Mijares has a big split, making him less useful in a full inning situation.

4. Chicago

Matt Thornton has certainly been dominant in the past, and I don’t doubt he can return to that form, however, he did trend way down in his K rate last season, and posted his highest ERA since 2007. Will Ohman is just your typical journeyman reliever, and tends to spend more time in garbage time than getting important outs. If Collins from the Royals was a little more reliable right now, I would’ve put the Royals ahead of the Sox, frankly because I think Mijares is better than Ohman.

3. Detroit

This was a close one with the #2 team, but when it comes down to it, a couple of things bothered me about Detroit’s guys when comparing them to others left. Daniel Schlereth has a track record of walking a bunch of guys, and while he is difficult to hit, he is susceptible to the home run, and for a reliever that isn’t good news. Phil Coke is better as a reliever than starter, but he isn’t dominating enough to be considered as a top tier guy. He performs well against lefties, but his role tends to be that of a guy who goes at least one inning, and the more batters he faces, it seems like the worse off he is.

2. Minnesota

Yep, Glen Perkins and Brian Duensing. Duensing has been a starter pretty much his whole career and has quietly been effective for the most part. One thing is for sure, he has a history of being nasty on lefties, and in a relief role won’t be facing near the righties that tend to hurt him. I think he can take well to the role. I am gambling a little and giving some credit to Glen Perkins that might not be due, because he only had a real good year once, but I like his peripherals. One thing Perkins does outstanding is limit walks and keep the ball in the park. If he continues that, he is going to be successful for a long time.

1. Cleveland

Sipp and Rafael Perez are kind of unsung heroes in that Cleveland bullpen. I got them first in the Central for several reasons, one of the main ones being these guys are consistently good. Sipp is nasty to hit, and both righties and lefties stink against him, hitting just .201 overall. In fact, Sipp is tougher on righties, which means he can take the ball whenever. Perez is a little better against lefties, and easier to hit than Sipp, but has posted solid ERA’s for two seasons straight and has a rubber arm. Both guys take the ball when given to them, and both guys are pretty darn successful. These guys together form the toughest lefty combination in the AL Central.

Tags: AL Central Daniel Schlereth Featured Glen Perkins Matt Thornton Phil Coke Popular Tim Collins Tony Sipp

  • http://calltothepen.com/ SorianoJoe

    I love that you gave credit to Sipp, who is one of the most underrated relievers in baseball. I have to agree with you that the Twins lefties are better than the Tigers, even though I dislike the Perkins extension. Perkins is a legit 1 WAR RP at his best. Matt Thornton is the class of the lefty relievers in this division, but Ohman is what he is; a journeyman. I was reading on FanSided’s Mets blog, and their editor said that former Tiger Dontrel Willis would make a good LOOGY. I agree. Any thoughts on that John? Thanks.
     
    http://www.calltothepen.com

    • MCBjohnverburg

       @SorianoJoe I could see that. Willis doesn’t have the command to go 7 innings and maybe his stuff will play up a little in short stints. Certainly worth a flier if you’re a club that needs a lefty reliever. If I was Houston or the Mets or someone I would take a look.

  • ChrisHannum

    I think Thornton is actually the closer, so Chicago ought to have another guy as situational lefty #2. I would take Ohman and Thornton over any other pair in a heartbeat, though.

    • ChrisHannum

       @ChrisHannum Since I can’t edit my comment, I think that guy is Chris Sale (with a career-to-date OPS against of .596).

  • Inge4mvp

    I would swap Chicago with Minnesota.
    Just an opinion. Thornton will be better and Ohman is always solid.

  • jgorosh

    Nice piece John. LHRP are quite fungible, and I’d be surprised if there wasn’t plenty of turnover throughout the year in this category.