Detroit Tigers starting pitching, with the exception of Michael Fulmer, has been nothing short of unpredictable. Which is putting it mildly. The silver lining to that is the emergence of reliever Warwick Saupold.
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Warwick Saupold, the 27 year old Australian righty, put his talents on display most recently against the Chicago White Sox as he replaced Justin Verlander in the third inning. He is one of a few bullpen arms who have impressed as of late.
Over his last five games, Saupold has recorded 10.1 innings for the Detroit Tigers while logging an ERA of 0.00 and nine strikeouts.
To add to the magic, he has allowed two walks, both of them intentional. This stretch of brilliance brought his season ERA to 1.84.
Saupold should not be surprising anyone.
His numbers prior to being called up back in late May were a sure sign of things to come.
He previously showed the world he was ready to play when he pitched four scoreless innings against team Cuba. This outing included four strikeouts while surrendering the same amount of hits.
The Toledo Mud Hens benefited from his talents early in the season as well.
He started at that level where he posted a 2-0 record with a 2.90 ERA through just over 40 innings. The ERA mark had him ranked eighth in the International League.
What It Means
While Saupold has been impressive for the Detroit Tigers, it is hard to see his role expanding this season. Right now he takes on a long/middle relief role.
He is not a late inning guy, yet at least. And besides with the Wilson Brothers, Alex and Justin, succeeding in the back end of games, he isn’t needed there.
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Extending him out to become a starter is an unlikely, but interesting idea.
He started all seven games he pitched in at Triple-A, so he has the stamina.
There is even a potential opening by transitioning Jordan Zimmermann to the bullpen.
A move for Zimmermann poses two issues.
The first is that Zimmermann pitched well his last time out against the White Sox.
His slider looked sharp and he had good command of his fastball. He was aided, however, by an offensive explosion.
The second issue is his contract. It shouldn’t matter, but Zimmerman is set to make $18 million (Per Spotrac) this year, with that number rising to $25 million (also per Spotrac) in the last year of his contract. It shouldn’t matter, but that much money in the bullpen is the definition of a waste.
For now, Saupold will have to remain a long relief and middle relief arm. But, with the numbers he is posting, he should hear is number called much more often in the near future.
Being a reliable righty out of the bullpen will be essential for both him and the Detroit Tigers as they make a push to take over the weak American League Central.