Detroit Tigers Spring Training Depth Chart – Relief Pitching
The bullpen isn’t a huge ares of strength in Detroit or on the farm. The Tigers have some good arms, led by closer Gregory Soto and stopper Michael Fulmer, but as a group the bullpen ranked just 23rd in strikeout rate, and they walked far too many batters. The normally reliable Jose Cisnero struggled in the second half, but Alex Lange and Kyle Funkhouser took steps toward being setup men. Jason Foley and Miguel del Pozo showed flashes in limited innings, but it’s awfully hard to rely on Joe Jimenez and Bryan Garcia after they combined for a 6.70 ERA in 84.2 innings last year. Angel de Jesus was added to the 40-man roster this offseason, but while he has the stuff to contribute as a middle reliever, he struggles to throw quality strikes.
Many of the best relievers in the big leagues are failed starters, so it doesn’t always mean much if a team isn’t loaded with relief prospects in the minors. That said…the Tigers are really thin in real relief prospects. Gerson Moreno was one, and once upon a time he was on Detroit’s 40-man roster, but these days he’s mostly an organizational arm. Jacob Barnes has spent parts of the past six seasons in the big leagues with five different teams, and he has a quality fastball/cutter mix, but he hasn’t seen much success since 2018. Drew Carlton had a cup of coffee in Detroit last year, but then he was removed from the 40-man, and Zack Hess has a solid arm but he’s seen just average results in pro ball so far.
Some of the lower names on the list have interesting arms, but we just need to see more from them. We talked about Tanner Kohlhepp here, and while Austin Bergner and Brendan White spent much of last season as starters, they both profile better as potential relievers. Bergner has a mid-90s fastball and a strange, low-spin curve, while White sits in the low-90s with huge spin on his fastball and slider. We expect the Tigers to add a big-league relief arm or two once free agency opens up again.