Detroit Tigers: Pitching Staff Set Up for Promising Future

Sep 4, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris (44) greets teammates walking out from the bull pen against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 4, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris (44) greets teammates walking out from the bull pen against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Tigers
Aug 28, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Bruce Rondon (43) pitches in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Future Bullpen Might Be Even More Exciting Than the Rotation

Detroit Tigers fans have long witnessed struggling bullpens. From Jose Valverde to Joe Nathan and Joba Chamberlain to Neftali Feliz, the team’s bullpens haven’t always found success.

However, things could change in the coming years.

The Tigers already saw a glimpse of what the future could hold when Bruce Rondon came into his own last season.

Rondon paced Detroit relievers in SIERA (2.95), swinging strike percentage (15.8), WHIP (0.96) and strikeout percentage (31.3%).

The flame-throwing reliever will team with Joe Jimenez in the future to give the Tigers a fearsome two-headed monster at the back of the bullpen.

Like Rondon, Jimenez dominated opposing hitters last season. The top prospect pitched to a 1.51 ERA in 53.2 minor league innings, only walking 17 batters along the way.

What’s more, the right-hander fanned 78 hitters, good for 13.1 punch outs per nine innings. Jimenez also tallied 30 saves.

The 21-year-old’s dominance included 17 appearances with Triple-A Toledo, meaning he could very well crack the Major League roster at some point next season.

Potential Holdovers

In addition to Rondon and Jimenez, it is possible that a few incumbent Detroit relievers will be around for the long term. Justin Wilson is controllable through 2018, while Alex Wilson can be controlled through arbitration through the 2019 campaign.

Additionally, relief pitchers like Blaine Hardy, Shane Greene and Kyle Ryan all still have a year, or years, of team control left before they’re eligible for arbitration.