Detroit Tigers: Last Week’s 5 Heroes and Zeroes

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Apr 24, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall (8) runs the bases after he hits a two run home run off Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Al Alburquerque (62) at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

#4 Zero: Al Alburquerque

Heading into the season, we knew there were concerns with the Detroit Tigers’ bullpen.

These concerns largely centered around if Joe Nathan could be an effective closer and other questions. How bad would Joba Chamberlain stink? Which Ian Krol would we see? Would Joakim Soria bounce back?

Nowhere in these questions or concerns was Al Alburquerque mentioned nor should he have been.

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Al was one of the more effective and reliable options in the Tigers’ bullpen throughout 2014, posting a 2.51 ERA and 1.169 WHIP. His 72 games was most on the Tigers’ staff and proved that he was a trustworthy option in pretty much any situation, which earned him the “Everyday Al” moniker.

Despite having a great season last year, his strikeouts were noticeably down from a career-high 12.9 K per nine innings rate in 2013 to 9.9 last year to 7.1 this year. In fact, in 6.1 innings through Sunday, Al-Al has struck out just five while walking six and allowing three homers, including two in one appearance last week.

He says he is healthy other than suffering from a mild case of the flu and his arm is strong, but the velocity is down and has been down since the start of Spring Training. This is allowing his slower fastballs to be drilled.

If the Tigers can no longer rely on Alburquerque, they are in a lot of trouble.

Next: Jobashank Redemption