The Detroit Tigers have significantly improved following a last-place finish in 2015. One key area where the team is better is the bullpen. New addition Mark Lowe will be one key member of that bullpen.
New Detroit Tigers general manager wasted no time in making his mark on the team this offseason. Not only did Avila add significant stars in starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann and left fielder Justin Upton, but he beefed up a bullpen that has held the team back in previous postseasons.
Trade acquisitions Francisco Rodriguez and Justin Wilson joined a solid group of incumbents that include Blaine Hardy, Alex Wilson, Drew VerHagen and Kyle Ryan. However, that wasn’t all. Detroit owner Mike Ilitch was quoted earlier in the offseason (per ESPN’s Katie Strang) as saying “I don’t care about the money.”
As such, Avila made a splash in the free agent relief pitcher market. The Tigers inked former Seattle and Toronto reliever Mark Lowe to a two-year deal.
Lowe is coming off a stellar season with both the M’s and Blue Jays. He posted a 1.96 ERA in 55 innings pitched, totaling 61 strikeouts. Perhaps the most impressive part about the 10-year veteran’s season was the rediscovery of his velocity. According to FanGraphs, Lowe average velocity on his fastball jumped from 92.6 in 2014 to 95.3 in 2015. That will obviously serve him well pitching for the Tigers in the highly-competitive American League Central.
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Lowe and his new-found, blazing fastball will likely be on display in the seventh or eighth inning for Detroit. More often than not, manager Brad Ausmus will rotate between Lowe and Justin Wilson in the eighth innings of wins depending on who has the superior matchup. Both will setup Rodriguez, the team’s new closer.
FanGraphs’ Steamer projects that the former Seattle Mariner will throw 65 innings with a 3.48 ERA. The website also predicts a pair of saves and 65 strikeouts for Lowe.
On the other hand, Baseball Reference doesn’t project Lowe to pitch as much, but the website thinks he’ll be similarly effective. According to Baseball Reference, the reliever will total 53 innings and post a 3.40 ERA. What’s more, they also call for 50 strikeouts and a singular save.
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While much of Lowe’s projections are skewing toward his numbers with the Blue Jays (3.79 ERA) as opposed to his stats with Seattle (1.00 ERA), the reliever seems a solid bet to perform closer to his numbers with the Mariners.
On the whole, the right-handed pitcher’s FIP was 2.57 last year—and that kind of number seems about right where his ERA is concerned. Lowe’s fastball will be key next year as it will allow him to set up his other pitches while also blowing by hitters. Look for Lowe, along with the newer Wilson, to pace the Detroit Tigers in holds for the 2016 season.
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