Detroit Tigers: Three Potential Low-Risk Bullpen Additions


The Detroit Tigers have done a masterful job in reshaping the team’s bullpen. What was once a weakness for Detroit now has the potential to be a strength.

The acquisitions of Francisco Rodriguez, Justin Wilson and Mark Lowe (not to mention the presence of incumbents Alex Wilson, Blaine Hardy and Drew VerHagen) give the Tigers a dependable relief corps. While it’s tough to predict just how many other relievers will start the year in the bullpen, a team can always use depth.

Detroit learned all about depth last season as many of the team’s young pitchers wilted under the bright lights.

General manager Al Avila should be looking for more bullpen additions to, if nothing else, provide depth in an attempt to combat injuries and ineffectiveness. Here are three names the team should consider.

Dan Otero 

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Dan Otero had an awful season in 2015 as part of an awful Oakland Athletics team. Maybe we can just attribute his poor results to a poor season? Regardless of how you want to explain Otero’s struggles last year, no one can debate his effectiveness in 2013 and 2014.

The former Oakland reliever went 10-2 with a 2.01 ERA in 125.2 innings pitched. Not only did he post a remarkable number of wins for a relief pitcher, but he also has history against the Tigers.

Otero pitched out of the bullpen four different times during the 2013 American League Division Series when Detroit faced Oakland. During those game, the reliever only allowed four hits and a walk over 5.2 innings of scoreless baseball.

During his 2013 and 2014 seasons, the reliever posted respective WAR numbers of 1.3 and 1.8. By comparison, the Kansas City Royals’ Kelvin Herrera posted a 1.4 WAR last season.

Otero spent part of 2015 at Triple-A, pitching to a 1.95 ERA in 27.2 innings pitched. This suggests a rebound is entirely plausible.

If the Tigers claim him Otero and he finds his old form, the team could have a truly formidable bullpen.

Edwin Jackson 

The last time Edwin Jackson donned a Tigers uniform was in 2009 when the starting pitcher went to the All-Star game. Much has changed since.

Jackson has pitched for six different franchises since departing Motown. His results weren’t exactly All-Star worthy from 2010 and 2011, but they were solid (4.14 ERA and 3.71 FIP in 409 innings) nonetheless. Things continued to slide downhill for Jackson. The pitcher suffered 44 losses while posting a 5.00 ERA in 505.2 innings pitched from 2012 to 2014.

After those unsightly statistics, the former Tiger was shifted to a relief role. In 55.2 innings split between the Cubs and Braves, Jackson put up a drastically improved 3.07 ERA in 2015.

He may not be anything more than a one-inning reliever, but Edwin Jackson is worth a look for Detroit.

Burke Badenhop 

Jul 27, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Burke Badenhop (25) pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports


Eight years ago this month, the Detroit Tigers acquired Miguel Cabrera for a package that among others included Cameron Maybin, Andrew Maybin and Burke Badenhop. The team has already brought Maybin full circle by reacquiring the outfielder, could Badenhop be next?

The reliever is an extremely dependable pitcher. Since the start of the 2009 season, Badenhop has made 405 appearances, pitching 465 innings and posting a respectable 3.50 ERA. His FIP during that span was 3.43, suggesting he’s going to get results, regardless of the defense behind him.

Additionally, the former Marlin has allowed zero runs during his career when pitching in the home stadiums of the White Sox and Indians.

While his numbers and inability to rack up strikeouts (only 315 in 465 career innings) will prohibit him from closing games, or even serving as a setup option, Badenhop is the kind of quality arm that will help fill out the bullpen.

The reliever pitched to a 3.95 ERA (3.74 FIP) with the Cincinnati Reds. If Detroit sign him, here’s hoping he fares better than the last Reds pitcher to join the Tigers.

Next: Three Potential Low-Risk Bench Additions

Bullpen depth is becoming a necessity in the majors thanks to the reoccurring nature of injuries and ineffectiveness. The Detroit Tigers have the ability to sign three low-risk and low-cost relievers in Otero, Jackson and Badenhop, who will provide depth and quality. The team should make a move before it’s too late.