Detroit Tigers: The Bullpen is Fine
Detroit Tigers relievers have had a difficult time consistently closing out games in seasons past. While Opening Day proved to be another bullpen implosion, there isn’t reason to panic—or even worry.
The Detroit Tigers had a chance to exorcise some of the demons that have plagued the team in years past. That obviously didn’t happen as newly-minted closer Francisco Rodriguez coughed up a three-run lead, allowing the Miami Marlins back into the game. Luckily, K-Rod didn’t surrender the lead and the Tigers came back to win.
Despite the initial implosion—and the reaction that followed—the Detroit Tigers bullpen should be in good shape moving forward.
If you take away the Rodriguez inning (everybody has an off day), Detroit’s bullpen actually pitched pretty effectively. K-Rod simply missed his spots. This won’t happen every game, and frankly it shouldn’t happen too often, if at all. He doesn’t have 82 saves over the last two seasons for nothing.
Lost in the commotion of yesterday was the fact that Justin Wilson made his Tigers debut and performed excellently. The reliever allowed a ground ball single before striking out two batters looking and inducing a groundout to end the inning.
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While the next reliever in the game, Mark Lowe, allowed a run, he also pitched well. Lowe’s only real mistake was a pitch that speed merchant Dee Gordon smacked to deep center. Gordon easily advanced to third on the play, and could have scored an inside-the-park home run had the ball not been relayed in quickly.
After allowing the triple to Miami’s leadoff hitter, Lowe rebounded to get the next three hitters out. He got Marcell Ozuna looking, forced Christian Yelich to fly out and struck out a swinging Giancarlo Stanton. While Gordon scored on the Yelich out, Lowe did an excellent job in limiting the Marlins afterwards. It could have been much worse considering Miami started the inning with a runner on third and no outs.
Later on in extra, Drew VerHagen (who earned the win) held the Marlins in check so the Tigers could come back and earn the victory. The reliever allowed a hit on a ground ball and intentionally walked a batter. Despite those two base runners, he notched one of the most significant outs of the game, getting Stanton to strike out before bookending the intentional walk with to groundouts to end the inning.
Detroit’s last pitcher of the night, Shane Greene, tossed a 1-2-3 eleventh to earn the save. Greene, who will be in the team’s rotation after an excellent Spring Training, showed that he can be effective in relief. While he will be staying in the rotation, it is nice to know that manager Brad Ausmus has another option he can use in an emergency or in a playoff scenario when rotations are shortened.
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The bullpen is fine. Every pitcher has an off day, and that seems to be what happened with Rodriguez. What’s more, Lowe only made one glaring error on the pitch to Gordon. Other than that, Detroit’s relievers pitched a shutout. It didn’t happen on Tuesday, but the bullpen will win the Detroit Tigers a number of games this season—they just need more opportunities.