Detroit Tigers: Relief is not on the way

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 07: Michael Fulmer #32 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field on April 7, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 07: Michael Fulmer #32 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field on April 7, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Tigers pitching corps has done a remarkable job this year. It is because of this fact that the team is in second place in the American league Central. However, once the starters have pitched to their limits the probability of a win diminishes greatly.

The Detroit Tigers’ bullpen is once again weak and is causing the team to lose games.

The Detroit Tigers currently carry eight relief pitchers on their staff.  While the season is still young, some early indicators are not positive.

Offensive Team depth

The lack of team depth and a deficiency of timely hitting has cost the Tigers games they could have won. Already the Tigers have lost ten games this season by two or fewer runs.

These losses are the result of failure of timely hitting necessary to drive runs in or simply to put runners in scoring position. It can be argued that the Detroit team is currently carrying only eight true major league types on their everyday offensive roster.

The lack of team depth is due to the team’s attempt to rebuild the club. The Detroit Tigers have decided not to acquire established major league types so that their young players have an opportunity to play.

That motive is good and well if they have young players with the “potential” to be quality major league players. Currently the Detroit club does not have sufficient players that fit the role.

Young players such as Jeimer Candelario and Jacoby Jones fit that role as does Dixon Machado. Others such as Niko Goodrum and Victor Reyes do not.

The rebuilding philosophy is great if a team has the young quality players to fit that role. Currently, the Detroit Tigers do not have the potential stars in their minor league system to fill that role.

Looking up and down the roster, the team has a blend of older established stars, young players and those who probably will never make it as major league players.

Had the Tigers decided to go after some quality major league types and dumped the stuffed shirts, this year’s team might have had a chance.

Pitching Depth

While the Tigers appear to be in high gear in their attempt to rebuild their offensive roster, their pitching depth raises other concerns.

Without question the Tiger starting pitching staff has raised eyebrows with their performance so far this year. While the Detroit Tigers sit in second place in the American League Central, they will not make the postseason. There are two reasons for that; lack of offensive team depth and no quality relievers.

In an attempt to save money while rebuilding, the Tigers decided to stand pat and not pursue additional help. That fact will perhaps haunt them this year.

Few could have predicted that the starting staff would be so good this early in the season. But they are. Additionally, half of their relieving corps are pitching “lights out”. It is the other half of this group that are killing the Tigers this year.

Certainly, no one could have predicted that three fifth’s of this year’s starting staff would be so good at this stage of the campaign, Michael Fulmer, Matthew Boyd and Francisco Liriano have pitched brilliantly. Mike Fiers and Jordan Zimmermann have pitched like four and five starters on most teams.

But once again this year, it is the relievers that are costing the Tigers game after game. Over the past decade it has been the relieving corps that have cost the Tigers not only games but championships. This year will be no different.

Slightly over half of the team’s relievers have good numbers or are heading in that direction. It is the other half that are questionable major league performers.

Again it was the team’s attempts at cost cutting combined with their inability to predict how good their pitching staff would be that put them in this position

Next: Week 4 Minor League Report

For a team to win in this era of the pitch count a staff needs relief pitching depth. This year’s staff has half of the offensive capabilities and half of good quality relievers need to win.

The 2018 Detroit Tigers have a chance to outshine their detractors but will let a surprising opportunity to compete for postseason ball fall to the sideline.