Detroit Tigers need to look externally for bullpen help
Detroit Tigers fans haven’t seen the best relief pitching as of late. With the team using a variety of options who haven’t panned out, Detroit needs to look elsewhere for bullpen reinforcements.
Detroit Tigers relief pitchers haven’t enjoyed the best 2017 season.
Heading into the campaign, things look set with Francisco Rodriguez closing games, supported by dependable setup relievers in Justin Wilson, Bruce Rondon, Shane Greene and Alex Wilson.
There was also Blaine Hardy and Kyle Ryan on hand to provide left-handed options for manager Brad Ausmus.
Fast forward to late June and things haven’t gone as planned.
Rodriguez and Rondon both struggled mightily in the early goings, prompting the veteran to be removed from the closer’s role and the young flamethrower to be sent to Triple-A Toledo.
Hardy and Ryan have both joined Rondon on Mike Rojas’ squad, making way for the likes of William Cuevas, Arcenio Leon and Daniel Stumpf.
Only Stumpf is still with the Major League team, and he owns a 5.98 xFIP in nine appearances.
Truth be told, Detroit has gotten some quality innings out of call ups Warwick Saupold and Chad Bell, but the two long relievers are best suited in multiple-inning roles.
This has left Justin Wilson as the closer and Greene and Alex Wilson as his only setup men.
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Lack of options
Unfortunately, those last three represent the only real options for Ausmus late in games.
While it’s nice to have three dependable arms, the Tigers run the risk burning the trio out due to over usage.
Because of this, reinforcements are needed. They may not be coming in droves from within the organization either.
40-man roster candidates
Rondon and Jimenez will likely be back at some point, but the team might not want to drop either into high-leverage situations right away as the duo return to the Majors.
Other than that though, there aren’t many options on the 40-man roster.
Drew VerHagen, a former reliever in the Majors who’s found success in Toledo’s rotation, could be a fit.
However, the Tigers may need him to continue working as a starter in case the need arises.
Hard-throwing prospects Jairo Labourt and Victor Alcantara certainly have the potential to succeed, but Labourt has yet to pitch at Triple-A, while Alcantara sports a 5.06 ERA in 16 innings for the Mud Hens.
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Regardless of if the team buys or sells at the trade deadline, Detroit needs to start taking fliers on relievers let go by other teams to see if there are better fits out there.
The Tigers are in a unique positon where they have a poor record in the standings, but are still within striking distance of a playoff spot. Because of said record, Detroit has a higher position in terms of waivers.
They could potentially snap up a useful player, one who they wouldn’t have been able to claim if they had a winning record, who could help them turn things around.
Additionally, the team can also conceivably offer free agents who clear waivers the chance to step in and pitch in key roles due to the dearth of options.
Either way, the Detroit Tigers needs to start experimenting with as many different bullpen arms as possible to find some kind of combination that sticks.
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Right now, the lack of options just isn’t cutting it for the Tigers.