We have already hit the Detroit Tigers minor league affiliates’ starting rotation, so we start with an overview of how the Lakeland Flying Tigers bullpen will look on Opening Day.
Last season, as I mentioned before, the Flying Tigers had somewhat of an older pitching staff in 2021 because of the lost season of 2020. A few names that were familiar to West Michigan fans in 2019 saw a few of the same names in Lakeland, like Carlos Guzman, Xavier Javier and Gio Arriera.
The case that seemed the same across the Low-A Southeast division was the amount of free passes given as the lowest WHIP in the division was 1.33 and that belonged to the Marlins affiliates, Jupiter. The Flying Tigers’ bullpen finished 3rd in ERA (4.22) and 4th in WHIP (1.46) as a combination of talent, automated strike zone may have played a factor.
The 2021 bullpen featured several strong performances. Gab Sequeira, Chris Mauloni, Andrew Mango, Bryce Tassin, Ted Stuka and Michael Bienlien.
Here are some highlight reels of Mauloni and Stuka.
All have their strong suits as far as pitches go. Mango’s curveball spin on average is 2808, according to Minor League Splits. As a lefty, he will get plenty of opportunities. Mauloni at various points during the season showed a curve that also had high spin rate that generated a 36% whiff rate.
When Sequeira adjusted to his new sidearm motion, the Tigers instructed him to throw in late May; he finished strong over his last 21 innings of work, allowing just three runs and striking out 47.
So, how does the bullpen shape up for the 2022 season for Opening Day? Here’s my educated guess.
RHP Aaron Haase (2021 17th round draft pick)
RHP Williander Moreno
RHP RJ Petit (2021 14th round draft pick)
RHP Ted Stuka
RHP Elvis Alvarado (minor league Rule 5 draft pick)
RHP Matt Walker
RHP Gio Arriera
RHP Jack Anderson (2021 16th round draft pick)
I put Arriera in the bullpen because he is coming off the 60-day IL and looks to be, as of right now, a two pitch pitcher. He has a fastball that can get up to 97 and a slider that could generate a 51% whiff rate with last season as a starter. The Flying Tigers’ 2022 starting rotation will force Stuka in the pen and Walker could get the nod to West Michigan at some point, but for now, I think he starts the season at Lakeland.
Overall, I think the Flying Tigers pitching staff will be much better this season. They start the season on April 8th.