Detroit Tigers internal bullpen candidates
RHP Jacob Barnes: When the Tigers signed him back in December, he told Evan Petzold of the Freep.com he solved his problem, thanks to the direct nature of the Tigers’ analytics staffers, he said in the article.
Barnes has pitched for six seasons in the majors and will come into camp as a non-roster invitee. The Tigers want him to get depth back in his slider again. He can throw hard with a fastball that can touch 98 MPH and despite his 6.28 ERA in 2021, his xERA was almost a full two runs less at 4.32. If he is healthy after throwing through injuries in 2019, this is an arm that could make a push for a spot on the 40-man roster or possibly be one of the arms they call up early on from Toledo.
RHP Angel De Jesus: De Jesus was added to the 40-man roster this off-season. While he put up impressive numbers in Erie (13.1 IP, 0.68 ERA, K per 9 of 12.1) he struggled in his first two months in Toledo, posting an ERA of 6.60 in July. However, in his last two months of the season, he allowed just 12 hits over 23.1 innings of work with 29 strikeouts and posted an ERA of 1.38 and 1.74 in August and September. He has to cut down on his walks but expect him to be one of the early call-ups along with right-hander Jason Foley.
RHP Nivaldo Rodriguez: After hearing the story about Rodriguez and the year he had prior to joining the Tigers, we sometimes forget how tragic events can affect players. Per the story in the Detroit News ($), his father passed away in June 2021. After making his major league debut in 2020 for Houston, shortly after his father passed away, he was designated for assignment. The Tigers picked him up, and he went to Toledo.
Despite his walk numbers last season for the Mud Hens, he could see work as a spot starter or long reliever, similar to Rony Garcia. He has a five pitch mix at his disposal and provides Detroit another depth arm to the pen that could give some innings relief if a Tigers starter has a short night or they may need someone for a doubleheader.
The idea of the internal candidates versus a trade was simple. Based on their minor league signings this season, Detroit has positioned themselves to have depth from within. I am interested in seeing how these arms progress as the season begins.