Detroit Tigers: Mason Englert was the unsung hero in first win of 2023

Feb 24, 2023; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Mason Englert poses for a photo during the
Feb 24, 2023; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Mason Englert poses for a photo during the / Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Mason Englert came through when the Detroit Tigers needed him most

This time last year, Mason Englert was in High-A in the Texas Rangers organization. The big leagues seemed like they were a long way away, but it's funny how things work out sometimes.

Englert was taken by the Detroit Tigers in the Rule 5 draft last offseason. By this time, he had been fully recovered from Tommy John surgery for over two years, but pitched just three games in Double-A. But it was clear the Tigers liked him from the beginning. Scott Harris liked how he pounded the strike zone. That was something the team believed would serve him well.

Throughout spring training, Englert was one of the best pitchers out of the Tigers bullpen. He filled up the strike zone and induced a ton of weak contact. He's not overpowering by any means, but when you have the kind of command he has, that doesn't really matter.

He made the team with ease, but didn't have much time to get comfortable. He was called upon in the eighth inning on Opening Day against the Rays for his MLB debut. What seemed like an improbable dream just one year ago what now reality.

Unfortunately, he was greeted rudely by Wander Franco. He grinded out a long at-bat and hit a solo shot off Englert. It was a true "welcome to the big leagues" moment. But he didn't back down, retiring the next three hitters in order.

Finally, we get to last night's game in Houston. The Tigers don't have a lot of quality bullpen options. They're in a tie ballgame. Englert is called upon once again, this time with the uneviable task of facing a vaunted Astros' lineup. All he did was pitch three innings of scoreless baseball. He got nine huge outs, which was especially important considering the game went into extra innings.

Matt Vierling got most of the press last night, and rightfully so. He went 4-5, including the game-winning two-run homer in the 11th inning as the Tigers finally got off the schneid. But Englert deserves a ton of credit. In a game where the Tigers needed innings out of their bullpen, he came up clutch. Not bad for a Rule 5 pick.

You have to think that after that, he becomes one of the more trusted arms out of the Tigers bullpen. He came out throwing strikes. He was incredibly efficient, throwing just 29 pitches in three innings of work. He showed a ton of moxie for a guy who hadn't pitched above Double-A before this season.

There's a pretty good chance the Tigers don't win last night's game without Englert. Their bullpen is pretty thin at the moment. But right now, the Tigers are happy to have him. He was the unsung hero last night's first win of the 2023 season.

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