Another day, another series here on MCB. Of course, when it gets to the All-Star break, it’s natural for sites like this to look back and bring some grades to you from the first half. So, in an effort to be predictable, I wanted to give you a position by position look at how I think the Tigers grade out this season.
No reason to delay…
Jose Valverde- C-
Valverde has been better as of late, but the season as a whole hasn’t been that good for the Tigers closer. His ERA is now respectable at 3.55, however, his walk rate is up, and his K rate is way down. He just doesn’t look near as dominating as he has for the past 5 or 6 years. It almost seems as if he might be pitching through injury or something with the way he is throwing. He certainly hasn’t helped himself contract wise for next season and beyond.
Joaquin Benoit- B+
Much like Valverde, Benoit got off to a rough start, though he righted his ship a little bit earlier, and has been pretty dominant for the most part this season. Benoit is walking too many guys for a set-up guy this year, but has managed an ERA of 2.37 in the first half. Part of that is due to a very good K rate of 11.6.
Phil Coke- C+
I’ve always been a little bit baffled by Phil Coke. He has really good stuff, and at times looks dominant. However, he is pretty inconsistent, and when you look at him overall, I often wonder why Tigers fans seem to love him so much. His season this year has been somewhat inconsistent. He has lost 3 games so far out of the pen, has a way too high WHIP of a little more than 1.5, but is striking out over 8 per 9.
Octavio Dotel- B-
Dotel has been one of the more consistent performers out of the pen for most of the season. While his ERA is a little high on the season at 3.67, his peripheral numbers are outstanding, suggesting he has pitched in some poor luck. Dotel’s K rate is over 13/9, and his FIP sits at 1.85.
I didn’t give Villarreal an A because not a lot of people expected this kind of contribution. I gave it to him because he has been flat out outstanding. His ERA stands at a very good 1.61 on the season so far. His WHIP is 1.00, and his K rate is at almost 13/9. Batters are only hitting .165 against Villarreal this season. Since he has come up, he has been a stabilizing force in the Tigers bullpen, and a big reason why the Tigers bullpen has vastly improved since April.
Duane Below- B
Below has been essentially the long man out of the bullpen for the Tigers this year, and has thrived in the role. Below isn’t the dominating sort of reliever that Villarreal is, but he has done his job admirably this season. Rarely when he has come in has things gotten worse when he is on the mound. His ERA sits at a quality 2.75 this season, and his WHIP at 1.000. Below throws strikes and is posting an outstanding K/BB rate of 6.25 this year. Solid guy.
Luis Marte- C
I think Marte is a solid reliever. Since coming up after his injury, he has taken over the role that Colin Balester was supposed to grab this season, and his done his job pretty well. He often comes in for multiple innings, and often in a right handed role similar to that of Duane Below. He is walking more people than I would like, and has given up quite a few home runs, but beyond that he has been pretty good. His HR rate is pretty unsustainable by the way, so things should get better. Despite his HR rate, he carries a 3.71 ERA on the season.