Detroit Tigers: Relief Pitchers to Target
By Matt St Jean
As the Detroit Tigers stumble into the All-Star break, things are a bit different than they have been in years past. Generally around this time, the Tigers are amping up in order to withstand the final dog days of summer and make their push to win the AL Central.
This year, however, has been a bit different. The Tigers have struggled on all fronts in 2015, and cant seem to bring everything all together. They currently find themselves 5.5 games back of the Kansas City Royals, and have had major difficulty making up ground, ever since they began falling behind after an 11-2 start to the season. Imagine where this team would be without that start…. Yikes.
A major contributor as to why the Tigers cannot make up ground on their division rival has been relief pitching. The Tigers have given away more than just a handful of wins to opponents this season due to coughing up runs late. This is something the Royals simply dont do. With set-up man Wade Davis taking the eighth inning and Greg Holland locking down the closing roll, when Kansas City makes it into the late innings with a lead it stays that way.
Tigers fans on the other hand, have been put through almost every situation possible in the late innings. Losing this season on a walk-off hit-by-pitch and watching Joba Chamberlain toss batting practice has been interesting for sure, but very costly in the standings. Joba and Tom Gorzelanny are now gone, hopefully for good. Gorzelanny did accept the Tigers AAA assignment, however, and could be back up if he figured it out.
But if the Tigers plan on making up ground on the Royals, they are going to need more than just band-aids for their bullpen wounds. Here are five relievers who are on clubs that will be selleres at the deadline that the Tigers should target if they hope to win another AL Central crown:
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1. Aroldis Chapman – The triple-digit throwing lefty for the Cincinnati Reds has been in trade talks for a few weeks. The Reds are looking like clear sellers at the deadline, and are just waiting for the 2015 All-Star game at their home field to start selling off pieces. Chapman is absolutely dominant with one more year remaining on his contract, making him the 2015 relief version of David Price. Chapman is due $8 million this season and $12 million next year, which is the same overall cost as Joe Nathan. It’s too bad the Tigers farm system doesnt have a single prospect in the top 100, or they would be sure to offer him up and more for the chance at Chapman. Then again, dont ever count out Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, as he has been known to fleece teems before at the deadline
2. Jake Diekman – The Tigers miss Drew Smyly probably as much as anyone. The left-handed relief man could do anything, from giving you five innings of work in a scratch start, or strike out the side in a desperately needed situation late in a game. The Tigers had to trade him when David Price became available, however have not been able to find a lefty to fill his shoes. Diekman is just the guy. On a last place Phillies team, Diekman is a strong lefty who can get out both left and right handed hitters. His 4.99 ERA makes him a reasonable target for the Tigers, as the Phillies look to stockpile prospects for upcoming years.
3. Jose Valverde – Is this a joke? Kind of. But Manager Brad kept putting Joba Chamberlain out there, so what could be worse? At least Papa Grande will give us some dance moves and look like hes having fun while serving up salamis to opposing hitters. As of April 29th of this year, he resides somewhere in the Washington Nationals organization.