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Detroit Tigers: Steve Delabar is Worth a Flier

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Mar 25, 2016; Clearwater, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Steve Delabar (50) pitches during the seventh inning of a spring training baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 25, 2016; Clearwater, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Steve Delabar (50) pitches during the seventh inning of a spring training baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Detroit Tigers need bullpen depth, and Steve Delabar is available.

The Detroit Tigers could use bullpen help—stop me if you’ve heart that one before. Thankfully, Detroit is lacking more in depth than in back-of-the-bullpen arms, but the need still remains.

As it stands, new additions Francisco Rodriguez, Justin Wilson and Mark Lowe are locked in as Detroit’s closer and setup relievers respectively.

What’s more, after the release of Bobby Parnell and the demotion of Bruce Rondon, some combination of Kyle Ryan, Drew VerHagen, Lendy Castillo, Buck Farmer and Logan Kensing will fill in the remaining bullpen places.

Due to injuries to Blaine Hardy and Alex Wilson, Ryan and VerHagen are near locks to make the roster. This is probably the most telling aspect of Detroit’s current bullpen situations.

Both Ryan and VerHagen show considerable promise—Ryan has heled opposing batters to a .179 batting average this spring, while VerHagen pitched to a 2.05 in 26.1 innings last season. However, from a depth standpoint, the Tigers were likely hoping that the two, along with Parnell, Rondon, Farmer and others, would battle for one or two jobs. Now, with injuries to Hardy and Wilson, Detroit has had to fill four spots instead of two.

Naturally, some depth could help right about now. Luckily, a number of quality players are hitting the market as teams cut rosters down ahead of Opening Day.

One such player is Steve Delabar.

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While the now-former Toronto Blue Jays reliever is coming off a season in which he posted a 5.22 ERA (4.84 FIP) in only 29.1 innings pitched, there is definite reason for optimism that he can turn things around.

Delabar excelled at Triple-A in 2015, accumulating 30 strikeouts while putting up a 1.42 ERA in 25.1 innings pitched. He put up similar numbers in limited action this spring, striking out eight and pitching to a 2.25 ERA in 7.2 innings.

Based on that small sample size alone, it would seem Delabar is making progress towards returning to the pitcher he was in 2013.

During the 2013 season, Delabar was one of baseball’s best setup relievers. The former Mariner threw 58.2 innings, striking out a staggering 82 batters. His ERA was a stellar 3.22, but his 2.72 FIP was even more outstanding. To top it all off, the Kentucky native was one of the rare non-closers to earn a trip to the All-Star game.

The Detroit Tigers have found quality players at this time of year before, with J.D. Martinez being the prime example. While no player picked off the scrap heap is likely to contribute on the level J.D. has, signing Delabar could pay dividends.

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If nothing else as a depth piece, the ex-Blue Jay would give the team more options. If an injury or trade occurred, the first relievers to get the call in Triple-A would be Rondon and the inexperienced Jose Valdez.

Should he pitch well, Delabar could end up being a trusted reliever—something Detroit hasn’t had a lot of—moving forward.

For more Detroit Tigers Analysis, check out our Detroit Tigers analysis hub page.

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