Detroit Tigers avoid arbitration with relief pitcher Blaine Hardy
Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Blaine Hardy has avoided arbitration with the club. The Tigers announced the move in a tweet on the team’s official Twitter account on Saturday morning.
Detroit Tigers fans could very well see reliever Blaine Hardy return to the bullpen picture next season.
Per a tweet from the Tigers’ official Twitter account on Saturday morning, the southpaw has avoided arbitration. The tweet also announced a number of minor league signings by the organization.
Detroit tweeted the following:
"“We have agreed to terms on a 1-year contract with LHP Blaine Hardy, thus avoiding arbitration, and have signed RHPs Kevin Comer & Mark Montgomery, infielder Niko Goodrum & OF/1B Chad Huffman to Minor League contracts for 2018 with invites to Spring Training.”"
A former 22nd-round draft selection by the Kansas City Royals in 2008, Hardy joined the Detroit organization in 2013.
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Career with the Detroit Tigers
He notched a 1.67 ERA across 91.2 innings split between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo.
The reliever would go on to make his Major League debut in 2014 for Detroit, notching a 2.54 ERA and a 3.49 FIP in 39 frames.
Hardy would continue to find success pitching in relief over the next two seasons, logging a 3.21 ERA, a 3.22 FIP, 1.379 WHIP and 75 strikeouts in 87 innings spread over the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
For significant stretches, the Washington native and Alex Wilson were the only reliable options in Detroit’s bullpen.
Last season, however, the southpaw struggled.
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He turned in a 5.94 ERA, a 5.38 FIP and a 1.770 WHIP in 33.1 Major League innings.
This was likely due to a sky-high .361 BABIP that was well above his career norm.
Opposing hitters also started to put the ball in the air with more frequency against the southpaw. The reliever’s his ground ball percentage dropped from 48.1% in 2016 to 33.0% last year.
The reliever also allowed a career-high 1.89 home runs per nine frames.
While Hardy was much more successful (1.81 FIP, 9.96 strikeouts per nine innings in 40.2 frames) at Triple-A Toledo, he still fell down the pecking order where left-handed relievers were concerned.
Even with Justin Wilson now a member of the Chicago Cubs, Hardy is seemingly stuck behind Daniel Stumpf in regards to being the bullpen’s top left-handed pitcher.
It’s also possible that 23-year-old Jairo Labourt will continue to see work in the Majors, which would add further competition for the former Kansas City farmhand.
Heading into the offseason, Blaine Hardy was one of eight different Detroit Tigers players eligible for arbitration this winter.
The others included shortstop Jose Iglesias, outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, catcher James McCann, utility man Andrew Romine and fellow relievers Alex Wilson, Bruce Rondon and Shane Greene.
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However, with Romine having been claimed off waivers by the Seattle Mariners and Hardy avoiding arbitration, Detroit’s front office has two less arbitration cases to worry about.