New Detroit Tigers reliever Justin Wilson will be play a key role this season.
Thanks to some key offseason additions, the Detroit Tigers bullpen should be a much improved group in 2016. Francisco Rodriguez and Mark Lowe arrived, as did former Yankee reliever Justin Wilson. While Rodriguez will step in and likely post gaudy save totals, and Lowe is coming off a season with a 1.96 ERA in 55 innings, Wilson could be the most important of the bunch.
The left-handed reliever is coming off a strong season with the Yankees in which he posted a 3.10 ERA (2.69 FIP) and 66 strikeouts in 61 innings. Overall, the former New York and Pittsburgh pitcher has a stellar 3.03 ERA in 199.1 innings spread over four seasons. He’s averaged 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
His best stretch came from May 26th to August 11th, when the lefty posted a 0.65 ERA, which translates to only two earned runs allowed.
As stated, Detroit has had some solid relievers. The Tigers have even had a few former Yankees (Phil Coke and Joba Chamberlain before things fell apart) who have found some success in Motown. However, none of them had the ability that Wilson does.
Wilson excels against both left and right-handed batters. For his career, right-handed hitters have managed a .209 batting average, a .300 on-base percentage and a .603 OPS. Left-handed hitters haven’t fared much better, batting .235 with a .309 on-base percentage and a .621 OPS. There’s also the added bonus of Wilson having yet to allow a run while pitching at Comerica Park.
In addition to posting some good splits where batters are concerned, Wilson has excellent pure stuff. According to FanGraphs, the reliever’s average velocity on his fastball sits around 95 mph.
His other pitchers aren’t too shabby either. The reliever also throws a two-seamer (around 95 mph), and mixes in a changeup, cutter, slider and cutter. In total, Wilson posted a 12.1 SwStr%. Per FanGraphs, SwStr% is “Swings and misses/total pitches.” Wilson’s 12.1 number was higher than relievers like Wade Davis, Kevin Siegrist, Jake Diekman and Tyler Clippard.
Not only can Wilson dial up the heat, he can also generate swings and misses.
While Wilson will team with Lowe to provide a bridge to Rodriguez now, he could transition to the closer role in the future. Relievers tend to be successful well into their thirties, but Lowe (32) and Rodriguez (34) are both on the wrong side of 30. At just 28-years-old, Wilson could once again provide the Detroit Tigers with a bridge, this time from Rodriguez to future closer Joe Jimenez.
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