Detroit Tigers: Why Tyler Alexander Made History

Fans today were treated by Tyler Alexander’s amazing performance out of the Detroit Tigers bullpen.

Today, Tyler Alexander set an AL record for most strikeouts in a row with 9. The previous record-holder was Doug Fister when he was a member of the Detroit Tigers back in 2012. It was broken up when he hit Mike Moustakas in the 6th.  While not in a row, the most strikeouts by a Tigers pitcher in relief was Denny McLain on June 15, 1965, with 14.

From TCU to Detroit

This has been a long road for Tyler Alexander to the majors. He features five pitches.  A slider change, four-seam fastball, curve, and a sinker. The 2nd round draft pick out of TCU in 2015 advanced from Low-A Connecticut to Lakeland and then moving up to Erie. He struggled with the adjustment from Lakeland to Erie with low K per 9 numbers as a starter (6.56) and those struggles continued in his first season at Toledo in 2019.

But thanks to the work of Toledo Mud Hens pitching coach Juan Nieves, Alexander got better. Nieves spoke about the advice he gave to the Mud Hens pitching staff last season while talking to the Toledo Blade:

“Command is, ‘Oh, I can throw strikes.’ But individually they are all working on their own command of the strike zone. It is, how do I make efficient pitches in the zone and how can I control the zone in those four quadrants,” he said. “There are a lot of different words you talk in baseball. I believe in beliefs within the game. One of those is command the strike zone with multiple pitches — hopefully three or four pitches — and control that command in the zone and use it sequentially.”

After struggling to start the season, he started with his first double-digit strikeout performance of his minor league career in Toledo on June 22nd, 2019.  The K’s went from 5.87 in his first year in Toledo to 9.88 before his call up in July.

In his appearance today,  the evidence was there of Alexander’s command of the zone despite hitting Moustakas. The ability to throw five pitches is rare for a reliever and it has paid off early.  He has averaged an exit velocity of 88.1 MPH and combined with Gregory Soto, they have allowed one run while striking out 23 in 12.1 innings pitched. We can hope Alexander continues to be a dependable arm out of the bullpen.  Here are the 9 strikeouts in a row.