Sometimes a coincidence will come along so perfectly that it borders on Fate: your tire explodes in front of a tow truck. You are desperately hungry when you randomly find a Burger King gift card. And sometimes, your Closer-in-Waiting blows out his arm around the time a young, talented reliever with closer experience gets waived from the 30-man roster before the season starts.
August 16, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Javy Guerra (54) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the sixth inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 10-6. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
In 2011 Jonathan Broxton crapped the bed and allowed Guerra to step in and hold off Kenley Jansen for the Dodgers’ closer position. He recorded 21 saves, sported a 7.33 K/9, a 3.47 BB/9, and 0.39 HR/9 as a 25-year old. His downside was revealed as he posted xFIP’s of 4.07 in ’11, and a 4.29 in ’12, with a WAR of 0.3 in each season, but the bottom line was that he got the job done.
In 2012 Guerra began the season as the incumbent closer, but took a line drive to the face and seemed to struggle a bit. With an other-worldly talent like Jansen waiting in the wings, struggling was not an option and he was deposed.
Guerra has been struggling with walks of recent, sporting a BB/9 of 5.06 in the majors in 2013, but had a 3.20 BB/9 in AAA. This spring Guerra has pitched in 7 games and sports a 1-0 record with a 2.25 ERA, though he has struck out 5 and walked 4 in 8 innings. His walks aside, Guerra remains a talented young pitcher with a low-to-mid-90’s fastball, a solid cutter, a good slider, and a slow curve. Four functional pitches, 28 years old, and under team control until 2018? Yowza.
Again, with Rondon hitting the shelf with Tommy John surgery, there is a gaping hole in the Detroit Tigers’ bullpen. Joe Nathan is really the only dependable reliever, and he’s 39. Everyone (including me) wants Joba Chamberlain and Al Alburquerque to right their respective ships and utilize their vast potential, but that’s not a guarantee. I like Evan Reed and Luke Putkonen, but I have no idea how they will fare in high-leverage situations. So, shouldn’t Guerra’s experience but immensely coveted by Detroit?
Personally, I’d be shocked if Mr. Dombrowski hasn’t made a few calls over to LA Dodgers GM Ned Colletti; Guerra is a pitcher whose skill-set and resume fits in perfectly with the Detroit Tigers modus operandi, and it would be worth it to try and acquire him. He’d help solidify a tenuous bullpen and provide a bit more security as a setup man than anyone else could.