Detroit Tigers: Roster Predictions Heading into Spring Training

Pitcher Spencer Turnbull stretches during Detroit Tigers spring training at TigerTown in Lakeland, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020.
Pitcher Spencer Turnbull stretches during Detroit Tigers spring training at TigerTown in Lakeland, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. /
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Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers /

Predicting the Bullpen for the Detroit Tigers

The bullpen will be a major focus this season. This area of the team will see a lot of new faces throughout the season but what Detroit brings north will be similar to what we saw in 2020.

16. Tyler Alexander

Seemly out of nowhere last year, Alexander tied the AL record with nine straight batters. He up his K% rate, lowered his WHIP and lowered his Hard Hit% all in 2020. Another item worth noting he decreased his use of his fastball and upped his usage on his curve. He can also be used as a spot starter. He isn’t the fireballer that Soto is but expect Alexander in the bullpen in 2021 with his ability to locate.

17. Gregory Soto

One of several candidates to be the Tigers closer, he continued to work in the off-season on showing 2020 was not a flash in the pan on working on his slider.   Like Alexander, Norris and Urena, Soto has starter experience and that will benefit what Hinch wants to do with the bullpen. It is good to sign a Tigers international signing pay off.

18. Buck Farmer

Coming into spring training with an impressive beard, Farmer spent time being the team’s setup man last year. He is a true utility bullpen piece but for all the time he has spent in the bullpen, he still has not recorded a save. That could change this season.  It is strange to think he is the longest -tenured Tigers pitcher and second only to Miguel Cabrera.

19. Bryan Garcia

Detroit gave Garcia every opportunity to close last season and he took advantage of it with four saves. You would like to see that K% go up as it was just 12.9% to generate some more swing and misses. But pencil him in the back of the bullpen.

20. Joe Jimenez

Jimenez lost the closer’s role but as  Chris McCosky of the Detroit News reported, he is an option to closer once again. He will need a strong spring to be considered. While his slider produced a XBA of just .197, he will need to improve on how he locates his fastball, which produces enough to put him in the 88th percentile.

If he can get his release point back to the point that he can disguise his fastball better and make his changeup an effective pitch enough for hitters to respect him, Jimenez can get back to being a reliable arm.

21. Jose Cisnero

We here at MCB get a lot of grief for not praising Al Avila enough, which I think it is a bit much because Avila found Cisnero off the scrapheap from Houston. It is more than a golf clap, they finally got some good luck. He emerged as an effective bullpen arm in 2020. He cut his walk rate from 2019 and upped his K% to 27.6%. If he can limit his hard hit% (up to 46.1% from 36% in 2019) he is another arm to be considered to be a closer.

22. José Ureña

José Ureña missed time last year due to COVID-19 and then he fractured his forearm. If he can improve his command and get a better breaking ball, I think for now, long-relief to spot starting for now coming out of the bullpen aka the seventh or eighth starter.