Aug 1, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit (53) pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the eighth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE
Joaquin Benoit was the best Tigers reliever in 2011. I have no problem saying that even though it was Jose Valverde that was racking up the insane save numbers as the team’s closer. The secret to Benoit’s success was simple: strike out a lot of batters and don’t walk many.
Well, he actually upped his strikeout rate by a full batter per nine innings, and kept his walk rate below three per nine, but his home run rate more than doubled from just over 0.7 per nine innings to over 1.7 per nine innings. The result was a FIP that ballooned from 2.96 to 4.26, and an ERA that moved from 2.95 to 3.68 (thanks to a still-suppressed BABIP).
The Tigers finished the playoffs without a closer and without a truly reliable setup man. It was Phil Coke and Octavio Dotel mostly filling these roles in the end, but their platoon splits indicate that they’re really lefty and right specialists (respectively). The Tigers need a productive Benoit available to help solidify that bullpen.