The Detroit Tigers Still Have A Pitching Problem

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - SEPTEMBER 25: Tarik Skubal #29 of the Detroit Tigers delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the top of the first inning at Comerica Park on September 25, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - SEPTEMBER 25: Tarik Skubal #29 of the Detroit Tigers delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the top of the first inning at Comerica Park on September 25, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers entered the 2022 season with optimism when it came to their pitching staff.

The homegrown trio of Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning looked to build off the improvements they made toward the end of 2021. Eduardo Rodriguez was handed a five-year, $77 million contract to headline the new rotation. And the Tigers then made the move to round out the rotation by signing Michael Pineda to a one-year deal.

The Tigers also brought in lefty Andrew Chafin to bolster the back end of the bullpen. Something they have been looking to sure up for some time now.

With all of the moves made, it has not all gone according to plan.

Detroit Tigers Newcomers

Andrew Chafin has yet to debut for their new ballclub this season, and Pineda just made his first start. He had a delayed beginning to the already-delayed Spring Training as he was dealing with Visa issues.

Chafin, on the other hand, has been dealing with a groin injury that kept him in Lakeland when the Major League team broke camp at the end of Spring Training. He began his rehab assignment Thursday night with a scoreless inning after completing a series of bullpen sessions down at the Lakeland facility.

Eduardo Rodriguez’s start to his Tigers career has been a little rocky. He was better in his third outing, but he still owns a 5.27 ERA over 13.2 innings pitched. Only accumulating a 7.90 K/9, and a career-high 3.95 BB/9. Yes, it is a small sample size, but it is not what was expected of him when the Detroit Tigers made the move to sign him to his large contract.

Rodriguez currently ranks in the bottom half of the league in nearly every pitching metric thus far. The lowest is Average Exit Velocity, where he ranks in the 9th percentile of baseball with an average of 93.5 MPH on balls put in play.

The Young Trio

The most notable news here is Casey Mize and the right elbow sprain that landed him on the 10-day IL.

Although he was able to pitch through five innings in his last start, he was noticeably laboring throughout the outing. He currently remains without an official timeline to return to action and has been shut down from throwing for the time being.

Mize has stated that the soreness has subsided compared to when he was initially feeling the discomfort, but it has not done so enough to where the Tigers have started to piece together a plan to get him back to Detroit.

Matt Manning is also currently dealing with an ailment of his own. He was removed from his last start with right shoulder discomfort. He and A.J. Hinch both said that the initial prognosis, based on the tests completed, was “as positive as could be,” but he was recently placed on the 10-day IL. Once the inflammation in his shoulder goes down, he should be able to begin a throwing program to determine how many turn in the rotation he is going to miss.

With Pineda likely to fill Mize’s spot in the rotation, and Wily Peralta and Drew Hutchison sticking as long relievers, the Detroit Tigers have decided to call up Beau Brieske (our #15 prospect) to make his MLB debut on Saturday. As a 27th-round pick from the 2019 draft, Brieske is a great story and his debut should be celebrated, but it’s safe to assume the Detroit Tigers weren’t planning on using him this soon.

Tarik Skubal has been the lone bright spot for the Tigers rotation thus far. Dating back to the Spring, Skubal has shown that his refined pitch mix has helped him accomplish more on the mound. Proving to make him more of a complete and consistent pitcher. Last season, Skubal struggled with keeping the ball in the ballpark. It is something he wanted to focus on controlling more this season. So far, he has been able to do just that.

What Can We Expect Going Forward?

The Tigers efforts to improve the pitching situation, as a whole, should begin to take shape soon.

Pineda has proved to be a durable, and reliable, option for the teams he has pitched for, and he was strong in his season debut, holding a potent Yankees lineup scoreless for five innings. His arrival is coming at a perfect time.

Hopefully, Casey Mize and Matt Manning can return to the rotation shortly, but Tyler Alexander has been a solid swingman for the Tigers in the past. He should continue to be able to fill that role for them going forward.

The Tigers bullpen has been solid in the first couple of weeks this season. They currently rank 10th in all of baseball in bullpen ERA with a 2.85. Consistency is key for them as the team looks to continue to compete in the AL Central, and fight for a playoff spot at the end of the season.

Once Andrew Chafin can return from his injury, this situation should only look to improve. We should also note the improvements Joe Jimenez has made in his six appearances so far. After struggling to find his command last season, it looks as if he is slowly returning to his All-Star form.

It is a long season, Tigers fans. As the team gets settled into their roles, you will truly see them start to flourish the way they were expected to in spring training.

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