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The Pitching Staff Through 38 Games: The Bullpen


The bullpen has been the biggest problem for the Tigers this far. Arms like Daniel Schlereth, Al Alburquerque and Luis Marte, who were originally in the rotation’s plans, either have performed poorly or gotten hurt. Since then, Luke Putonken and Collin Balester have been forced to step into important bullpen roles, and have underperformed. The good news is this: putkonen and balester will be replaced by Brayan Villarreal and marte once the roster goes back to 12 pitchers. I’d be surprised if one random guy didn’t come up from the minors and have success. Villarreal is as close to being dominant as he is to being in AAA. The organization will also make one, if not two moves for a reliever, and that move/those moves will replace whomever is ineffective come july. I’m more worried about Joaquin Benoit’s control problems and Jose Valverde’s complete ineffectiveness, because those guys are essentially counted on to carry the big weight in the back of the pen.

Without further adieu, here is how the Tiger bullpen ranks in the AL (15 teams) using similar categories that I outlined for the starters:

ERA- 5.04, last
FIP- 4.03, 10th
xFIP- 4.05, 11th
SIERA- 3.66- 11th
K/9- 8.80, 3rd
BB/9- 4.51, last
K/BB- 1.95, 13th
Swstr%- 10.9% 2nd
WAR- .7, 8th
WPA (win percentage added)- 2.00, 14th
Meltdowns- 22, last
WHIP- 1.53, last
OPS against-.777, last

Flat out, the Tiger bullpen has been awful. It’s lost a handful of games when leading after 7 innings, after going 77-0 in the regular season last year. However, it’s important to remember that plenty of the guys who have been a part of the early season failure will not be with the team down the stretch. Arms like Putkonen, Thad Weber, Schlereth, and probably Balester will be replaced by more competent pitchers. While it’s easy to panic a month and a half in, remember that the Tigers’ bullpen had an era over 5 after two months last season, too.