Detroit Tigers: Scott Harris must fix his first mistake as president of baseball operations
The Detroit Tigers bullpen is a mess, and Scott Harris is primarily to blame
The Detroit Tigers had one of the better bullpens in baseball in 2022. It ranked eighth in MLB in ERA. It was led by the likes of Michael Fulmer, Andrew Chafin, a resurgent Joe Jimenez, and Gregory Soto.
Fast forward to 2023, and all those players are gone. Jimenez and Soto were both traded this past offseason, Fulmer was traded at last year's trade deadline, and Chafin left in free agency. New president of baseball operations Scott Harris had to reshape the bullpen for 2023. His solution was to fill it with a bunch of non-roster invitees and some unproven commodities. So far, that has been a massive mistake.
There is nobody in this bullpen that A.J. Hinch can rely on right now. Jason Foley is solid as the groundball guy with inherited runners. Tyler Alexander has been surprisingly decent in that swing man role. Other than those two? A bunch of nothingburgers.
Trey Wingenter can't throw strikes. Alex Lange has struggles doing the same thing. Jose Cisnero is cooked. Chasen Shreve is okay, but he has to be perfect with his location otherwise he gets rocked because he doesn't throw hard. Garrett Hill also has trouble finding the strike zone. It's just a complete and utter dumpster fire.
People got upset with A.J. Hinch after last night's game after he used Lange in the eighth, then went to Wingenter in the ninth in a two-run game. Lange threw 12 pitches in a scoreless inning. Wingenter gave up a single, walked a batter then hit a batter in a 3-2 count. Even after Wingenter had his meltdown, I didn't mind the move.
Hinch needs to figure out who he can trust in certain situations. The only way to do that is to run guys out there in those situations. This was the first time he went to Wingenter in a save situation, and he blew it. Now he knows he can't trust Wingenter in that situation again.
It's easy to second-guess a bullpen decision after something has happened, but hindsight is 20/20. If Hinch sent Lange back out there in the ninth inning and he blew it, people would have been slamming him for not taking him out. It works both ways.
Speaking of Hinch, oh boy. He's had it with this bullpen. I'm going to show you his press conference after last night's game, because you could tell just how frustrated he was.
It's pretty clear that Hinch is tired of losing, at least in this fashion. His greatest strength is utilizing his bullpen arms, and he hasn't been able to do that so far this year. That comes down to bullpen construction.
Scott Harris dropped the ball in this department. He thought he could fill out the bullpen with a bunch of NRIs and a Rule 5 pick and that clearly hasn't worked. So it's time he admits his mistake and attempts to fix it.
Start making some moves. Get Miguel Diaz or Brendan White up here. Try to swing a trade for a reliever. He seems to love the waiver wire, so start scouring it for some bullpen arms. Hop to it, because this clearly isn't working.