April 5, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Eric O’Flaherty
Last week, we looked at some right handed relief options for the Detroit Tigers’ bullpen. Now, we look at a few left handed options. The left handed market is not nearly as deep as the right handed one. Drew Smyly served as the late inning lefty last season, but will want to start in 2014. If he is called upon to go back to the bullpen, he would probably do it, but there have been many talks of the Tigers trading one of their starters which would move Smyly to the rotation. The other left handed option in the bullpen is Phil Coke who was optioned last season after having a horrid year. The Tigers will either have to put trust into Coke, find a minor league option, or sign a player. Here are three of the options for the Tigers.
Eric O’Flaherty is an absolute stud lefty out of the bullpen when healthy. Since 2009, O’Flaherty has posted ERA’s of 3.04, 2.45, 0.98, 1.73, and 2.50. In his career, he holds left handed batters to a career .200/.262/.269 split. In 2013, that split was .143/.182/.238 before he went down with an elbow injury. Many fans have complained about the Tigers lack of a lefty and if O’Flaherty can get healthy and still have the stuff that he had in past years, the Tigers may be able to pick up a lefty for cheap. He did have Tommy John Surgery in May, but is worth the risk because his upside is better than any lefty in the Tigers bullpen by leaps and bounds.
Howell found success in the bullpen for the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers over the past number of years. As a starter, Howell had an ERA of 6.34. As a reliever, Howell has posted an ERA of 2.86. In LA last year, Howell put of a 2.03 ERA with a WHIP of 1.048. His split against lefties was .164/.225/.227 with a K:BB of 4.00. In 2013, the Dodgers signed Howell for $2.85 million and he will probably get the same contract again this season. He will probably be too expensive for the Tigers who need to be a smart with their money especially for someone who may turn into a LOOGY. If Howell lowers his price, he may be in the Tigers’ price range.
Boone is definitely the third tier of these three lefties, but he is still better than Phil Coke who has not had an ERA under 4.00 since 2010. Logan had an ERA of 3.23 with the New York Yankees last season. The Yankees are looking to add Javier Lopez to their bullpen, so Logan looks to be out of a job. Logan made $3.15 million last season, and should not make even close to that this upcoming year. If he prices himself at that price again, the Tigers will have to look elsewhere for a lefty in the back end of that bullpen.