With a depleted bullpen, it’s time for the Detroit Tigers to promote right-hander and strikeout artist Zac Houston from Triple-A Toledo.
The month of August has not been kind to the Detroit Tigers bullpen. A long season with many players meeting or exceeding their career high in innings has led to some disastrous performances. Joe Jimenez has an 11.57 ERA in the month. Alex Wilson‘s is 7.27. Louis Coleman is 4.35. The Zach McAllister experiment couldn’t have gone worse, with a 21.60 ERA in three appearances.
While the season is long gone, it’s clear the team could use reinforcements in the bullpen, simply to make sure everyone finishes the year in one piece. After all, Blaine Hardy and Artie Lewicki are both on the disabled list, and Lewicki is likely to miss most, if not all, of 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Lewicki is currently on the 10-day disabled list, although at anytime the Tigers can move him to the 60-day DL, which will clear up a spot on the 40-man roster. Hybrid catcher/first baseman John Hicks is expected to miss the rest of the season as well, meaning he can be placed on the 60-day DL. With only seven days until rosters expand in September, the Tigers should be giving one of those roster spots to big right-hander Zac Houston, who has had an outstanding 2018 season.
Houston, We Don’t Have a Problem
Houston, an 11th round pick in the 2016 Draft out of Mississippi State, has been a strikeout machine this season. He began the year in Double-A Erie, tossing 17 1/3 innings and posting a 25/9 K/BB ratio and a 2.60 ERA.
Things got even better with a promotion to Triple-A Toledo, where the right-hander has thrown 34 1/3 innings and posted a 52/16 K/BB ratio, with a 1.31 ERA. That gives him an outstanding 13.4 K/9 and 1.74 ERA on the year.
The six-foot-five, 220 pound Houston has a huge frame and a fastball that sits in the mid-90’s and can reach 98. He is a two-pitch pitcher, with a slurvey slider complimenting his heater.
Houston has clearly done more than enough to merit an opportunity to pitch in the Detroit Tigers bullpen. Control is still a concern, with a 4.4 BB/9 and a tendency to plunk hitters when he’s trying to back them off the plate. His strikeout numbers will likely come down in the show, but his funky delivery and solid two-pitch mix should make him a viable bullpen option for the time being.
At the very least, he will be a better option than McAllister and will help ease the load of some of Detroit’s tired bullpen arms.