After losing Max Scherzer in free agency, and replacing him with Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon, Detroit Tigers fans knew it was going to be a little bit of a change than in previous years when it came to pitching.
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Former General Manager Dave Dombrowski’s consistent failure to address the bullpen had become the norm, but not having that dominating ace starting pitcher to keep a weak bullpen fresh proved to be disastrous. Acquiring David Price was a nice temporary replacement, however on nights Price went out throw the Tigers could never seem to give him any run support. Once Price was traded to Toronto, Dombrowski followed him out the door basically minutes later, when he was relieved of his duties by team owner Mike Ilitch.
The funny thing is the Tigers managed to hang around until this past weekend. After putting up monster numbers against a now 20-game above .500 Chicago Cubs team, they found themselves only 3.5 back of the Wild Card with a beatable Texas team in town and another opportunity to gain some steam in the chase to make the playoffs. Then they trotted out Randy Wolf.
Randy Wolf’s rookie season was in 1999. He is currently 39 years old and had only pitched in the minors this season before being acquired from Toronto. At this crucial moment in late August, Tigers management thought that a guy whom they just traded for, who has only started five games in three years at the Major League level, was their best option to start a game in hopes of actually making the playoffs. He actually managed to only allow 4 runs over 9 hits to give the Tigers a chance. They went on to blow the game however, continuing the joke of a season 2015 has become.
Buck Farmer is the leagues best pitcher the first time through the batting order. However the moment opposing hitters get a second opportunity, or Farmer miraculously makes it to the 5th inning, everything goes wrong. Monday Night’s game in Cincinnati was another prime example, as Farmer was fantastic until the start of the 5th, when he along with every other arm in the Tigers current bullpen couldnt manage to get a single out. Neftali Feliz was left out to die by Manager Brad, who at this point must get some sort of sick pleasure watching his relief pitchers embarrass themselves.
Justin Verlander‘s shocking resurgence has been about the only breath of fresh air surrounding the Old English D as of late when it comes to throwing the ball. But that is literally it. Anibal Sanchez is having a career worst year, as he leads all of baseball in home runs allowed with 29, and Al Alburquerque can’t locate the only two pitches he knows how to throw, other than directly towards the bat of hitters. Dont forget about the Tigers bullpen savior, Bruce Rondon, the man once tasked with being the closer for a team poised to make a World Series run without a drop of experience. Rondon ended up injuring himself and not putting Tigers fans through that situation, instead saving his talents for this season and showing why Dombrowski was so high on him: He has a putrid 5.66 ERA and has allowed 13 runs over 20 innings pitched.
Not to be outdone, left-handed specialist Tom Gorzelanny, who at the moment would have trouble not allowing a hit to the 11 year-old participants in the Little League World Series, leads the way with a 5.90 ERA over the whopping 37 games Manager Brad has allowed him in the game.
Once the year is over, hopefully new General Manager Al Avila does a complete overhaul on the entire bullpen along with getting rid of his deteriorating son. If Avila learned anything from the Dombrowski regime, its that whatever Dave did, didn’t work. Zero rings since 1984 would make the Dombrowski-era a failure, and hopefully a different approach is in the near future.