Detroit Tigers Bullpen strong in May, in good place moving forward

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May 9, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Wilson (left) celebrates with catcher James McCann after defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
May 9, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Wilson (left) celebrates with catcher James McCann after defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Tigers
Apr 12, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann (34) and relief pitcher Alex Wilson (30) celebrate after the game against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Detroit won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Tigers relief pitchers rebounded from a disastrous April with a strong May. The bullpen has been solid this month, and should continue to find success as the season progresses.

Detroit Tigers fans, unfortunately, have become accustomed to see struggling bullpens. From Jose Valverde’s implosion to the struggles of Joe Nathan, Joba Chamberlain and Mark Lowe, it hasn’t always been easy going.

Following the end of April, it seemed that the 2017 Tigers could be heading down a similar path in terms of struggling.

Francisco Rodriguez had so far converted six saves, but he was also surrendering 2.79 home runs per nine innings and owned an unsightly 5.41 FIP.

Anibal Sanchez was also struggling as Detroit’s long reliever, with a -0.4 WAR and 4.91 walks and 3.68 home runs allowed per nine frames.

Elsewhere, 2016 bullpen stalwart Kyle Ryan sported a 7.59 xFIP and just 1.59 punch outs per nine innings.

Add in struggles from Bruce Rondon, Joe Jimenez and William Cuevas in limited work, and the bullpen wasn’t in the best place.

Overall, the group ranked 28th in WAR and had the highest xFIP and WHIP in the league.

Fast forward to the tail-end of May and things have changed for the better.

Detroit has moved the team’s pitch reliever, Justin Wilson, he of the 1.46 SIERA, into the closer’s role.

A Reshuffled Deck

The team has also settled on a new rotation, as it were, in terms of setup artist.

Shane Greene is thriving while pitching late in games. The right-hander owns a 1.190 WHIP to go along with 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

He also owns a 3.03 FIP to go along with a 28.9 strikeout percentage. Both numbers are second only to Wilson on the team.

Joining Greene in pitching the seventh and eighth is the team’s other Wilson, Alex Wilson.

The dependable right-hander is once again recording outs and limiting base runners, with a 1.47 ERA and a 0.927 WHIP.

Rounding out the trio of setup options is left-hander Blaine Hardy.

With Justin Wilson closing games and Kyle Ryan pitching in Toledo, Hardy has seen an uptick in work as the bullpen’s top southpaw.

So far, the Washington native has logged a 3.78 SIERA and 7.43 strikeouts per nine innigns.

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