Detroit Tigers’ Hopes Hinge On Acquiring Relief Help


In 2015, the Detroit Tigers are one of the best teams in the American League, yet again. However, just as in previous years, the Tigers risk wasting a talented roster due to an unwillingness to stabilize their bullpen.

To their credit, this iteration of the Detroit bullpen has been far more dependable than those in past years. Joba Chamberlain, Joakim Soria, and Alex Wilson all have earned run averages under 2.00, and others, such as Angel Nesbitt, and Tom Gorzelanny have ERA totals around 3.00.

But, if the Tigers are going to have any realistic chance of winning a championship before their window closes, they must add an elite bullpen arm, at, or before the trade deadline. A few relievers who could be of use are as follows:

1. Jonathan Papelbon – Philadelphia Phillies

A Papelbon trade is unlikely, given his expensive $13 million option for 2016. However, if Detroit decides that this is one of their last real chances at a title, they would be hard-pressed to find a better addition to their bullpen than Papelbon. The Phillies’ closer has 117 saves in just four seasons with Philadelphia and he has been sensational in 2015. So far, he is 11/11 in save opportunities, and has allowed just three earned runs this season, all while pitching in a stadium far less friendly than Comerica.

2. Tyler Clippard – Oakland Athletics

If Detroit decides they are not comfortable removing Joakim Soria from the closer’s role, however, a more suitable addition would be Oakland’s Tyler Clippard. Acquired by Billy Beane as part of a confusing offseason, Clippard will most likely be available given Oakland’s poor record, and Beane’s penchant for re-shuffling his deck. If he is, he would be quite an addition in the set-up role. The hard-throwing reliever is durable, having already pitched 19 innings in 2015, and effective, having allowed just 2 earned runs in his last nine appearances.

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3. Koji Uehara – Boston Red Sox

A name that once made Tigers fans wince could be one that they celebrate in 2015, if the Boston Red Sox continue to struggle. Even at 40 years old, Uehara has been dominant. Boston’s closer has allowed just three runs all year, and blown just one save, while striking out 16. Furthermore, he is slightly more affordable than Papelbon, playing on a 9 million dollar contract, and would provide Detroit with insurance in case Soria chooses to leave.

4. Francisco Rodriguez – Milwaukee Brewers

Despite taking two out of three from Detroit recently, the Milwaukee Brewers are not a good baseball team. And, at the deadline, one of their most valuable trade pieces will be Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod could work in a set-up role, or as the closer for Detroit if they were to acquire his services. Services that they certainly need. Rodriguez has blown no saves in 2015, posted a 1.20 ERA, and struck out 17, while walking just two.

5. J.J. Hoover – Cincinatti Reds

Hoover is the least high-profile reliever on this list, but he has been just as good as any of them in 2015. Beyond that, he has been Cincinnati’s best reliever outside of Aroldis Chapman. The 27 year-old allowed four runs in a 16-10 loss to Milwaukee on April 21st, and has not allowed a run since. In fact, in 8 1/3 innings in May, Hoover has allowed just three hits. If Detroit were to add Hoover, he, like any pitcher, could play a pivotal role in earning Detroit their first title since 1984.

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