A little longer than twelve hours ago, Tiger management was scrambling, trying to tender all of their players eligible for arbitration. Luckily deals were met with Joel Zumaya, Marcus Thames, Fernando Rodney, Edwin Jackson and Bobby Seay. But it is the one they missed out on that is dissapointing me this Saturday.
Though the Tigers claim they tried to extend an offer to Aquilino Lopez, they missed out on a real oppurtunity to lock down the mop up reliever they really could use, considering that nobody knows what to expect from this rotation.
Lopez, the now free agent, was put in the toughest situations of any reliever last season. In 48 games last season, Lopez held an impressive 3.55 ERA, with 4 wins and one loss. Anyone who watched Lopez last year would be wondering why I am so upset about non tendering Lopez. At times, he was erratic, and took us out of ballgames. Consider this. In tight situations, Lopez was one of, if not the best bullpen pitcher. In his four situations coming into the game, he only gave up one run, and struck out four. In his four wins, he pitched eight innings and gave up only one run. A lot of the worry has been that the Tigers don’t have the back end of the bullpen to compete. I would argue that you need a guy like Lopez to get you to the back end. Especially with this shaky rotation.
Breaking it down even further, of the 78.2 innings pitched, 46 were shutouts and Lopez got the first man out in 49 other innings. He only came in 16 times and allowed the first man to reach base. Considering how many times he came into the game with runners on base, that is phenominal. It’s starting off the right way, and getting out of situations right. The Tigers could offer Lopez a minor league deal, but with Edwin Jackson joining the squad and the emergence of Zach Minor last season, I doubt that happens. Clearing Lopez also opens a 40 man spot for the closer we are still hunting for (we will get deeper into this later). Last year it was Chad Durbin that we gave up on going into the 2008 season. This year, it could be Aquilino Lopez.