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Detroit Tigers 2017 season in review: Drew VerHagen

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KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 28: Drew VerHagen #54 of the Detroit Tigers throws in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 28, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 28: Drew VerHagen #54 of the Detroit Tigers throws in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 28, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Tigers
BALTIMORE, MD – AUGUST 05: Drew VerHagen #54 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 5, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /

2017 with the Detroit Tigers

The pitcher eventually made his way back to the Majors with the Tigers, eventually filling a need in the rotation.

After a pair of bullpen outings, VerHagen made his return as a starter in the Majors, taking the hill against the Baltimore Orioles.

In five innings, the Vanderbilt product was largely productive, leaving after five innings with three strikeouts and just four hits, two runs, two walks and a home run to his name.

However, that start was followed by a dreadful outing versus Pittsburgh in which the Pirates jumped all over VerHagen to the tune of nine hits, six runs, a home run and a walk in only 3.2 innings.

Moving to the bullpen

From that point on, the right-hander pitched out of the bullpen for the Tigers.

He threw 21.2 relief innings for the club the rest of the way.

While his 4.57 ERA and 5.14 FIP aren’t exactly anything to write home about, there were a number of promising signs that could point to a rebound season in the bullpen come 2018.

VerHagen’s stats were in part impacted by a sky-high .345 BABIP.

Why VerHagen may find success in 2018 and beyond as a reliever

That being said, he did miss more bats than he did as a starter in the minors, with 8.31 punch outs per nine innings.

VerHagen also turned in a 3.78 xFIP over the span while inducing plenty of grounders with a 58.7% ground ball percentage.

For reference, if the righty would have maintained that number over an entire season, it would have ranked 12th in the Majors, just behind Jeremy Jeffress and just ahead of Sam Freeman.

What’s more, VerHagen also turned stranded 83.3% of his runners.

If he had pitched an entire season and maintained this, he would have again ranked highly among Major League relievers.

Had VerHagen maintained that number, it would have checked in tied for 25th in the league with Arodys Vizcaino and ahead of the likes of Cody Allen, Chris Devenski and Raisel Iglesias.

All that being said, this is an incredibly small sample size of 21.2 relief innings.

But, if VerHagen can post numbers that even come somewhat close to those on a full-time basis in 2018, he’ll be a significant asset out of the bullpen for Ron Gardenhire and the rest of the Detroit Tigers coaches.

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