Detroit Tigers Spring Training 2015 Roundtable

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Jul 29, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Ian Krol (46) pitches in the eighth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

We all know the bullpen HAS to be better this year in order for the Tigers to compete. Who do you think will be a surprise in the bullpen in Spring Training that will (hopefully) continue into the regular season?

Dan: As far as the pleasant variety of surprises, I think it will be Ian Krol. As to RHP I am hoping that Hanrahan regains his health. If he has that, he will likely be a very nice addition. The closer role, unfortunately, is being decided by the same stubbornness we have witnessed for three years running. I do not expect to be surprised by either Nathan or Soria, for very different reasons. I think Soria will have a good year and that should not be a surprise. He is still a good pitcher.

Zane: I think Ian Krol will surprise a lot of fans this Spring Training, and will continue that success during the regular season. Krol posted a 2.05 ERA in his first 31 appearances, before the wheels fell off. Many contributed this to a heavy workload, but Krol blames it on a poor work ethic, as was chronicled by Anthony Fenech in the Detroit Free Press. In that article, Krol says “I’m not the only guy, but if I do get the opportunity to come out of spring, I’ll make the best of it.” That attitude will lead to a very good season from Krol, and the Tigers will need it.

Josh: A person that I hope is able to stand his ground in Spring Training and then contribute in the regular season is Josh Zeid. He pitched for two partial seasons in Houston and Detroit claimed him off waivers a few months ago. I love it when a player nobody else gives a shot goes out and proves everybody wrong (J.D. Martinez, anyone?), so I’m really hoping Zeid can do something good. Also, with Ian Kroll not amounting to anything, Zeid could serve as a replacement for Kroll’s specialist roster spot.

Steve: The tandem of Soira and Nathan will surprise many fans after their lackluster performance in 2014. They have solid track records and with the offseason training and conditioning I believe that they will be back to their form. The mere fact that Phil Coke is NOT in the bullpen is a victory for the Tigers. Lobstein will start in the bullpen and will add some depth. The acquisition of Gorzelanny will also be a key pick up.

Tom: If I had to pick a surprise, it would be either Buck Farmer or Kyle Ryan showing up and really performing well to be placed in the Tigers bullpen. I think people will be surprised by Alex Wilson and Tom Gorzelanny. They were two pickups that could really reinforce the bullpen. The three people who need to have better 2015’s with the bullpen are Joe Nathan, Joakim Soria, and Brad Ausmus. I don’t think Bruce Rondon will have the impact coming off of Tommy John surgery in 2015 that people are hoping. Nathan needs to have a better 2015 as the Tigers’ closer and I think he will. Soria will most likely take over the 8th inning. Ausmus has to be much better with his bullpen management for the Tigers to take the next step and I hope after managing a full season, he has the needed experience to succeed. I really think the Tigers will have a better bullpen performance in 2015.

Blair: I expect we’ll see the real Joakim Soria this year. He’s been too good for too long to have suddenly lost it, and should excel as the 8th inning set-up man. Given Joe Nathan’s age and performance problems last year, it would not be surprising to see Soria as the closer at some point. It would also be a tonic for the bullpen if Rondon is healthy and throwing 100 mph again by mid-season.

Matt: Two names–well two and a half names–pop up for me with this question. First name is Joakim Soria. He had no clear role coming over here midseason last year and now he does. He’s excelled through much of his career–it’s a contract year for him so I expect him to be a lockdown 8th inning option. The second name is Ian Krol. He actually was a fairly reliable lefty option through the first six weeks of the season but completely fell apart. It was his first extended taste of the big leagues, so I would expect him to learn and adapt and be better in 2015. Now, I say 2 1/2 because I think Joe Nathan could be better–I mean how could he be worse and not lose his job to Soria (sliding Bruce Rondon to setup)? Nathan has never struggled like he did in 2014 before. We’ll see in Spring Training if it was an aberration or his age has finally caught up. The “half” is because I really don’t know which way Nathan will go.

Dave: It’s hard to believe Joe Nathan and Joakim Soria could be any worse for Detroit this season. Nathan blew a career-high seven saves last season and had a 6.31 ERA in the middle of June. Soria posted a 4.91 ERA before hitting the DL in August. That came after posting a 2.70 ERA in Texas the first half of the season. Just the law of averages say those two will bounce back. As mentioned above, Rendon is a key to the bullpen along with fellow youngster Lobstein. If he makes the major league roster, Joel Hanrahan could also be an effective middle-inning reliever. He recorded 76 saves during the 2011 and 2012 seasons in Pittsburgh.