Detroit Tigers should claim RHP Josh Lucas
By Andy Patton
The Detroit Tigers have an opportunity to add an intriguing bullpen arm to their squad in right-hander Josh Lucas, whom the Cardinals just designated for assignment.
The Detroit Tigers have what appears to be a set bullpen in advance of Opening Day on Thursday. Warwick Saupold has claimed the final bullpen spot over Johnny Barbato, who is likely going to start the season on the disabled list.
Saupold joins Shane Greene, Alex Wilson, Joe Jimenez, Daniel Stumpf, Buck Farmer and Drew VerHagen to complete Detroit’s pen.
However, depth is always a plus and the Tigers have an opportunity to place a claim on a reliever who has posted solid numbers in the minors. That reliever, courtesy of the St. Louis Cardinals, is Josh Lucas.
While he does not have as cool of a nickname as The Leather Rocket, Jack Leathersich, Lucas has shown some promise and, if claimed, could force his way into an important role in the Motor City.
Lucas was originally drafted by the Cardinals in the 21st round of the 2010 MLB draft. He first reached Triple-A briefly in 2016 before spending the majority of 2017 at that level. He had a monstrous season, going 8-1 with 17 saves and a 3.15 ERA. That included a ridiculous 68/12 K/BB ratio and a 2.85 FIP.
Lucas parlayed that into 7.1 innings with the Cardinals, giving up four runs and posting a 7/4 K/BB ratio. He came into the spring ready to compete for a bullpen spot in St. Louis.
Lucas could not have done more to earn a roster spot in spring. He threw 11.1 innings without giving up a single run. He only gave up four hits and two walks and struck out 12. That led to a 9.5 K/9 and a 0.52 WHIP. Yet, Lucas was DFA’d on Wednesday to make room for 21-year-old flamethrower Jordan Hicks.
Why the Tigers should show interest
Lucas is likely going to get claimed. The Tigers should absolutely give it a shot. If claimed, the Tigers have a handful of relievers (cough, Chad Bell, cough) they could attempt to pass through waivers who have less upside than Lucas.
Lucas has succeeded thanks mostly to a 93 mile per hour sinker, which he uses to get hitters to put the ball on the ground. With an elite fielding middle infield in Jose Iglesias and Dixon Machado, Lucas would find a lot of success as a middle reliever in Detroit. While 27 is not young for a rookie, Lucas still has enough potential to potentially become a late-inning option.
At the very least, he could step into a middle relief role tomorrow and would be able to hold his own.
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The Detroit Tigers are in a unique position as a rebuilding team. As such, it makes sense to take a flyer on as many guys as possible. If a handful of them turn out, it’s a win for an organization that is just trying to see what sticks while their youth continues to develop in the minor leagues.