Some teams have periods where their bullpen is bad, followed by periods of solid, or even great, bullpen performances. The Tigers seem to have been born into a crappy bullpen, molded by blown saves and ballooned ERA’s.
The 1990’s were no different, as the Tigers saw a cavalcade of bad relievers on the hill in the Motor City for the decade. Here are the six best of the bunch.
LOOGY – Sean Runyan
Runyan led the league in appearances in 1998 with 88, but only threw 50.1 innings. A true LOOGY, he had a 3.54 ERA and a 135 ERA+ for the Tigers from 1998-1999.
Middle – Jerry Don Gleaton
A fellow left-hander, Don Gleaton had a solid season in 1990 (2.94 ERA, 137 ERA+) followed by an average season in 1991 (4.06 ERA, 104 ERA+). That is enough for him to crack the All-1990’s bullpen with a 3.47 ERA in 158 innings.
Middle – Storm Davis
Storm Davis finished out his 13-year career with two seasons in the Motor City. Across 83.1 innings, Davis had a 3.35 ERA and a 139 ERA+ with four saves for the Tigers.
Set-Up – Doug Brocail
Brocail has an argument as the best Tigers reliever of the 1990’s. The right-hander threw 222.2 innings with the team between 1997-1999. He went 12-10 with a 2.83 ERA and a blistering 163 ERA+. He also posted a solid 1.16 WHIP and a 7.8 K/9. Brocail was at his best in the Motor City, although he pitched all the way until age 42 with the Houston Astros in 2009.
Set-Up – Todd Jones
Todd Jones’ 235 saves are the most in Detroit Tigers franchise history. He racked up 89 of them in the 1990’s along with a 3.92 ERA and a 121 ERA+. He played for seven different teams between 2001-2005 before finishing his career out with three seasons and 93 saves for the Tigers from 2006-2008.
Closer – Mike Henneman
Henneman has a case for the best reliever in Tigers history, throwing 669.2 innings of 3.05 ball with 154 saves and a 136 ERA+. He was at the tail end of his career in the 1990’s, but still posted a 3.33 ERA with a 126 ERA+ and 99 saves from 1990-1994. He had 18 saves and a 1.53 ERA in 1995 before getting traded to the Houston Astros for Phil Nevin.
So there you have it – the Detroit Tiger’s 1990’s All-Decade Team. It wouldn’t hold a candle to the teams of the 1980’s or even the 2000’s, but there was still plenty of talent to go around in the offense-heavy era of the 90’s.
As always, we welcome your feedback. Think there’s someone we missed? Would you order the lineup differently? Let us know!