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Detroit Tigers: Tyler Alexander builds off of strong second half of 2021

Sep 28, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Tyler Alexander (70) pitches against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Tyler Alexander (70) pitches against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Tigers LHP Tyler Alexander has made his case for a spot in the 2022 starting rotation.

Last season out of the bullpen, Detroit Tigers pitcher Tyler Alexander made American League history by striking out nine in a row against the Cincinnati Reds.  That moment feels like a lifetime ago given the past year of events surrounding the coaching staff and now changes in the front office.

Alexander was a starter all the way through the minors and throughout most of his first season in Detroit in 2019. After his nine strikeout performance on August 2nd, 2020, Alexander would go on to have just two appearances in which he did not allow a run the rest of the season.  The consistency was simply just not there.

That changed in 2021 with manager A.J Hinch and pitching coach Chris Fetter on the bench.  Alexander grew into a starter once again and did not look back.

Tyler Alexander cut his way through opposing lineups

I discussed a few weeks back how Alexander’s cutter was a difference-maker in how he pitched. It was his number one pitch in 2021 (throwing it 35.4% of the time) and it made him much more effective against right-handers. They batted just .228 against the pitch this season compared to last season in a smaller sample size (66 pitches), they hit .385 against the pitch.

The same thing with his slider, which right-handers hit just .091 against Alexander this season (he threw it 96 times) compared to last season, in which he threw the pitch 65 times and right-handers hit .476 off the pitch.  Another impressive number was the slugging percentage as right-handers hit just .136 against it.

Perhaps Hinch giving him a defined role helped Alexander as in the second half of the season, he had just 18 walks in 66.2 innings pitched over 15 games in which he started 13 of them. Compare that to the first half of the season, he walked 10 in 39.2 innings pitched over 26 games pitched in which he was starter/opener for two games.

Another important number to remember he lowered his WHIP from 1.58 in 2020 to 1.32 in 2021 against right-handers.

With the free-agent market teething with starting pitchers that may be too expensive for Detroit, having Alexander as a possible fourth or fifth starter in next year’s rotation is less of a liability than in the past.  Alexander helped Detroit stay competitive when injuries hit the rotation.  He appears to have a defined role heading into the off-season and that is a valuable asset for the Tigers.

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