With the season drawing to a close, we are going to provide year-end grades to each Detroit Tigers player who donned the Olde English D in 2018.
The Detroit Tigers have nearly completed the first year of what looks to be a multi-year rebuilding process. While the team was hard to watch at times, there is still plenty to evaluate from this season as we look ahead to the next few years.
As with any team, there were a lot of excellent performances, surprise performances, and of course disappointing performances. Here at Motor City Bengals, we are going to be evaluating each player who suited up for the Detroit Tigers this season. We will analyze how they performed, what their future holds in the Motor City, and we will provide them a grade.
Note: the grade will be relative to what was expected of them. So a player who performed well above expectations may earn a B or an A, even if their actual season numbers are not that elite. If you disagree, feel free to drop us a comment. We would love to have discussions about these!
We have done player grades on a few of Detroit’s pitchers, including Michael Fulmer (here) Jordan Zimmermann (here) and one reliever, Buck Farmer (here). Now, we take a look at another one of Detroit’s middle relievers, although he didn’t fare quite as well as Farmer did.
Saupold was a mainstay in Detroit’s bullpen in 2017, racking up 62.2 innings despite an ugly 4.88 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP. He went into 2018 expecting to compete for a middle relief role. At age 28, expectations that Saupold would take a giant step forward were misguided. However, it would have been nice to see him take at least a little step forward.
While Saupold’s 4.46 ERA is better than last season, he took a step back in nearly every other area. His 5.81 FIP is horrendous, and his 4.19 K/9 proves that his stuff isn’t fooling any big league hitters. He lowered his BB/9 to 3.41 but his HR/9 was 1.57, thanks to a 37.8% hard hit rate.
Saupold only lasted until July 2, getting sent down to Triple-A and never making it back to the big leagues. His 7.26 K/9 and 2.87 BB/9 at Toledo weren’t bad, but his 4.89 ERA was.
At this point, Saupold will be in the fight for his life for a spot in Detroit’s bullpen next season. If he doesn’t make it out of spring training, his big league career is in serious jeopardy.
Expectations were low for Saupold, but it’s hard to give a good grade to a pitcher who was cut from the 25-man roster after just 34.1 innings.