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At the Quarter Pole: Tigers’ Bullpen Providing Little Relief


Earlier today, Zac offered up grades on the Detroit Tigers starting pitchers. Later on, Matt, Chris, and Jay will chime in with other aspects of the team. So make sure to check back for those over the next two days.

The Tigers have the worst bullpen ERA in the league right now, so most of these grades aren’t good ones. There are a couple that stand out as excellent, but it goes downhill in a hurry from there.

Jose ValverdeA

The Big Potato has been outstanding in the first quarter of the season. He’s 10-for-10 in save chances and opponents are hitting just .200 against him. He’s striking out 10 batters per nine innings and has limited his walks as well. In short, he looks every bit as good as he did in the first half of 2010.

Al AlburquerqueA

When Dave Dombrowski gave this unknown a major league contract in the winter, people thought he was crazy. Crazy like a fox it turns out. Al Al has allowed just five hits in his 13 innings of work so far (3.5 per 9 innings) and has already fanned 23 batters (15.9/9). He does walk too many, but when he gets his magic slider and upper-90s fastball over the plate, he’s next to un-hittable. It’s like the second coming of 2006 Joel Zumaya.

Daniel SchlerethB

Schlereth has done a great job against left handed batters this year, holding them to a .167 average (4-for-24). He’s also done a good job of stranding inherited runners, allowing just 36% to score (league average is 45%).

Brayan VillarrealC+

Villarreal gets a better-than-average grade despite a 5.40 ERA. Six of the nine earned runs he has allowed have come in two outings, which inflates the ERA quite a bit. In his other 11 outings, Villarreal has held the opposition to three runs in 12.2 innings (2.13 ERA). He’s also striking out nearly a batter per inning.

Joaquin BenoitD

No one expected Benoit to duplicate last year’s historic numbers, but we all expected him to be better than he has been so far. Opponents are squaring him quite well so far for a 22% line drive rate. That might not sound high, but consider that only one pitcher who is still with the club has allowed a higher line drive rate. For reference, only five percent of the balls hit against Alburquerque have been classified as line drives.

Ryan PerryF

Here’s the guy with a higher line drive rate against, coming in at 41%. Perry has allowed 10 hits and seven walks in just seven innings of work. Yes, that’s a small sample and he did have a disaster of an outing in Toronto last week, but it wasn’t his only blow-up this year. He hasn’t seemed to progress at all since his rookie season.

Brad ThomasF (if there a grade worse than ‘F’ I would assign it here)

Thomas has allowed more hits and more earned runs than any other Tigers reliever, and done so with fewer innings pitched than most. He has also allowed an amazing 83% of inherited runners to score (10 of 12); you almost have to try to let that many inherited runners to come in. Thomas is just not a very good pitcher.

Enrique GonzalezF

Gonzalez was DFA’d after just 5.1 innings this year. He allowed six walks and eight hits in that time and four of those hits went for extra bases. I’d still rather have him than Thomas though.

Robbie WeinhardtINC

Weinhardt got himself a brief cameo earlier this year and didn’t have good results. He’ll get another chance at some point this year and he’ll be better. His stuff and his command are too good to not work at the big league level.