Detroit Tigers relief pitchers struggled to miss bats in 2017
How to fix it
Simply put, Detroit Tigers relievers need to miss more bats.
This is obviously easier said than done, but the more outs the team gets via the punch out, the less of a chance that a bloop double falls, or that an inning extending, ground-ball single finds a hole.
The incumbent relievers may not fix the issue by themselves, but adding a veteran or two from the free agent mix would certainly help things.
The free agent market
Detroit isn’t going to splash the cash on someone like Wade Davis (22nd in swinging strike percentage) or Greg Holland (24th), but there is value to be found elsewhere on the free agent market.
Right-handed bullpen arms Luke Gregerson and Sergio Romo finished 18th and 26th respectively in swinging strike percentage with a 15.8 and 14.9 swinging strike percentage respectively.
The duo finished ahead of the likes of Chad Green, Corey Knebel and Addison Reed.
Fellow free agents Tony Barnette and Seung-hwan Oh also ranked relatively highly in swinging strike percentage, checking in at 48th and 51st respectively.
Now, obviously swinging strike percentage isn’t the entire picture where bullpen pitchers—and pitchers in general—are concerned, but it is a prominent piece of the puzzle.
Signing a player like Gregerson, Romo, Barnette or Oh on a short-term contract would give new manager Ron Gardenhire a late-inning-caliber reliever arm to pair with Alex Wilson in building the bridge to Greene.
Signing a player like one of the aforementioned quartet would also give the Tigers some much-needed insurance should the team’s current closer switch uniforms via trade.
Add in a pitcher like Jimenez or Rondon starting to make good on their potential, and Detroit’s bullpen will be in much better shape moving forward.
Next: In his first piece for Motor City Bengals, Andy looks at low-cost relievers who could be fits for Tigers
Not just from an overall standpoint, but also from a missing bats standpoint.