Perry or Pauley?

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I think to most Tigers fans the question above has an easy answer. Ryan Perry has been somewhat of an enigma over his short career with the Tigers, and certainly doesn’t seem to have the confidence of Tigers fans. He has lacked command and consistency throughout his career, having to have spend some time in the minor leagues the last couple of seasons to straighten things out after a bad stretch. Perry despite his strong arm has failed at this point to live up to the promise of being drafted in the first round of 2008. We could debate another time the strategy of drafting relievers i the 1st round, but it is safe to say at this point, he hasn’t delivered what the Tigers thought he would.

Even given all of those things, the question above isn’t nearly as easy to answer as one would believe.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the Tigers are going to have to choose between these two guys assuming a roster of 11 pitchers, and that the following 6 will make the bullpen; Jose Valverde, Al Alburquerque, Joaquin Benoit, Daniel Schlereth, Phil Coke, and Brad Penny. It could very well be that the Tigers decide to hold Penny off the roster and keep both Perry and Pauley, but then even Duane Below would come into play as a long relief option. So far to me, it looks like the 7th bullpen guy is going to have to come from a Perry/Pauley decision. Penny fits in as a long relief/garbage man if need be, and he has playoff experience.

David Pauley came over in the summer trade with the Mariners with starter Doug Fister. Pauley’s numbers before the deal were absolutely outstanding, giving the Tigers another formidable option in the pen for the stretch run. What has happened is Pauley and his numbers have come back down to earth after leaving the friendly confines of Safeco Park. With the Mariners, Pauley had an ERA of 2.15. With the Tigers, he has carried an ERA of 4.76.

The telling statistics with Pauley come in some of his peripherals. Before arriving to the Tigers, he had a HR rate of 0.3/9. After the deal, he has a HR rate of 1.6/9. This was a concern of many of us who looked at Pauley’s real pedestrian stuff, and wondered where the success was coming from. Last year in 2010, he had a more realistic ERA of 4.07, given Pauley doesn’t strike out many hitters. Essentially, Pauley hasn’t been near the same pitcher with the Tigers that he was the Mariners.

Ryan Perry after a terrible first half this season that saw an inflated ERA (7.17) and a trip to Toledo, has been a quite a big stronger in the 2nd half, at least ERA wise. His ERA in the 2nd half is 3.27, though it should be noted that this is in only 11 innings. His BB rates and BB/K rates are about the same however and other peripherals still don’t look good at all. His WHIP in the 2nd half is higher, as opponents have hit better against him, going for a batting average of .302 against Perry. Where Perry has done a better job is limiting the damage in the power department, lowering his opponents slugging pct. against him.

Given that neither guy is exactly an attractive option for the post-season, things could come down to opponent the Tigers get in the first round, and the role in which the Tigers will need either guy. If the Tigers are looking for a guy that can go a few extra innings, Pauley might be the choice. If the Tigers are facing a strong right handed hitting lineup, and need a 7th inning guy due to Alburquerque’s injury, Perry might be the guy the Tigers look to.

There is another component to this decision that the Tigers are going to have to make. If the Tigers still believe that Ryan Perry is a part of their bullpen future, they may want to give him the nod and show some confidence in the young man now by placing him on the roster. That may be unsettling to fans, but it is a reality that organizations have to deal with. Even though there is more evidence to believe in Pauley this season, Perry has performed well in stretches for the Tigers, has far better stuff, and is more likely a future part of their plans than Pauley.

It is going to be interesting to see how the bullpen shakes out when it comes to post-season roster selection. David Dombrowski and Jim Leyland have their work cut out for them, and given all the variables, it is going to be tough for them to tell someone they aren’t on the roster. What the Tigers also have to consider is the likelihood that these guys are going to pitch innings with any leverage. It’s likely that the Tigers won’t use either in tough situations.

Ultimately, I expect the Tigers will make the decision based upon who they have the most confidence in. I have a feeling that will be David Pauley, but that may not even be the right decision given how he has pitched as a Tiger. It certainly may not be the right decision considering the Tigers are probably looking to count on Perry in 2012. It’s playoff time though, and you have to roll with your best 25.

The decision who their best 25 is, just isn’t all that easy.

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