5 Detroit Tigers Bullpen Questions

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Mar 19, 2015; Melbourne, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Al Alburquerque (62) throws against the Washington Nationals at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

#4: Will Al Alburquerque be the most reliable bullpen option again?

When it comes to the bullpen, Detroit Tigers’ fans have long memories. No one is safe from their wrath, not even from the most reliable and consistent bullpen arm when healthy–Al Alburquerque.

Perhaps its writers like me that don’t like singing his praises because we all hate spelling his name multiple times in an article (which is why we’ll call him Al-Al for the rest of this slide) but he has been a very good option for the Tigers. One bad season has really tainted his name, however.

He did not pitch much in 2012 because of injuries and experienced his worst year when coming back in 2013, however 2011 and 2014 were extremely solid. He sported a 1.87 ERA and 1.154 WHIP in 2011 and posted 2.51 and 1.169 last year. He was so effective last year that he was nicknamed Everyday Al for his frequent appearances, pitching in 72 games, nearly 20 more appearances that his previous career high.

With how bad the bullpen was last season, being effective and ready offers an invaluable service. But that is the problem. If Al-Al, a middle reliever, is your best reliever then you have problems.

The goal and job of every reliever is to record outs and Al-Al did that last year, but your best reliever should be your closer and/or setup man. Because when the game is on the line you need the best option out there and that is why Detroit lost so many times when leading after seven or eight innings a season ago.