Why the Tigers Should Sign Doug Fister in the Offseason

The 2015 Detroit Tigers starting pitching experiment has not gone to plan. Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene came out of the gates firing strikes and generally pitching extremely effectively. The results since have been awful.

Even with his one-hit shutout of the Texas Rangers, Simon’s ERA over his last 13 starts is 7.83. 7.83!

Greene’s ERA over his last 15 appearances isn’t much better. In fact, it’s worse. The former Yankee’s ERA is 9.35 over that span.

Going on those nuggets of information, it makes sense that the Tigers will target starting pitching this offseason.

One starting pitcher the team should target is former Tiger Doug Fister.

Fister has had a rough go of things in the capital this season, posting a 4.45 ERA in 21 appearances. The Nationals have shuttled him to the bullpen, where he’s made six appearances and allowed eight runs in 11 innings.

It’s safe to say he probably won’t be back in with the Nats com next year.

The Tigers should sign him.

Not only is Fister a known commodity to the Tigers, but he also won’t be too expensive. The former Mariner would likely be out of the Tigers’ price range if he put up his usual excellent numbers this year, but he’s struggled, so here we sit.

Justin Verlander and Daniel Norris are the only real locks for the Tigers to be in the rotation next season. Matt Boyd has showed flashes of potential so far in his rookie season, and could start again next season. Another incumbent who could return (should he decide to stave off retirement) is the ageless-wonder Randy Wolf. The other two members of the Tigers’ current staff (Alfredo Simon and Anibal Sanchez) could move on. Like Fister, Simon is a free agent at season’s end and will likely depart. Sanchez’ salary could be flipped for another big contract if Detroit needs to vacate a spot in the rotation for a new arrival.

(RELATED: Detroit Tigers 2016 Pitching Staff: Locks, Uncertainties and Likely Departures).

Fister makes all the sense in the world for Detroit, especially given his success at Comerica Park. The right-hander has posted a 3.18 ERA in 232 innings at the Tigers’ home stadium. Over those 232 innings he’s made 35 starts, striking out 180 batters and allowing opponents to hit only .255 against him.

The potential situation makes even more sense when you consider that the Tigers don’t want to rush any of their prospects making their way through the minors. Adding Fister on a short-term contract to act as a place-holder for young arms such as Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa. The move would also allow Fister to rebuild his value in search of a bigger contract.

Detroit needs starters and, barring a change of events, Doug Fister will likely be available on the free agent market this coming offseason. Given the likely high cost of other starters, the Tigers should jump at the chance to bring the comparatively-cheaper Fister back into the fold. It would benefit all parties.

Not only would it benefit all parties, but it would allow new Tigers general manager Al Avila to (in a way) make up for one of his predecessor’s biggest mistakes.

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All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Detroit Tigers 2016 Pitching Staff: Locks, Uncertainties and Likely Departures

After Monday’s bullpen implosion, the Detroit Tigers pitching issues were once again brought to light. Al Alburquerque, Tom Gorzelanny, Neftali Feliz and Guido Knudson’s collective time on the mound saw a Tigers win turn into a blowout loss.

Sadly, this is nothing new. Maybe not allowing 10 runs in an inning, but certainly allowing enough runs to lose the game. Only three teams have allowed more runs than the Tigers, while Detroit is tied for the league in number of home runs allowed with 144.

This year’s staff has been predominantly ineffective. That means changes in the offseason—lots of changes. With that in mind, here’s a look at what pitchers are locks to stay, which pitchers are uncertainties  and which pitchers are likely departures.


Justin Verlander

Verlander isn’t going anywhere, not with his contract. This makes him the biggest lock (pitcher-wise) on the team. It doesn’t hurt that he’s regained his old form. The ace owns a 1.67 ERA and a 40/6 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his last 43 innings. He’s back ladies and gentleman—and barring a massive addition, will open 2016 as the Tigers’ ace.

Daniel Norris

Verlander may be the team’s ace of the present, but Norris looks like a candidate to be the staff’s leader in the future. The centerpiece of the David Price trade, Norris has the look of a future front-line starter. He could start realizing that potential sooner rather than later.

Michael Fulmer

While still in Double-A, Fulmer may make his debut this season as a September call up. If he does, look for him to stick in the rotation in 2016. Acquired from the New York Mets in the Yoenis Cespedes trade, Fulmer has been dominant in the minors. In 20 starts in the minors the pitcher has struck out 113 batters in 115.2 innings while only walking 28. He’s 9-3 with a 1.95 ERA as well as touting a mid-90s fastball, a nasty slider and an improving changeup.

Matt Boyd

Another pitcher acquired in the Price deal, Boyd looks the part of a dependable rotation arm moving forward. He’ll constantly live up in the zone, but that’s ok given he’ll start half of his ballgames in Comerica Park.

The Washington-native owned an ugly 14.85 ERA with the Toronto Blue Jays, but has posted a much better 4.88 ERA (4.37 FIP) with the Tigers.

Bruce Rondon

Bruce Rondon had a tough start to the season, which is much of the reason why his ERA is 5.66. However, recent form suggests a promising future. The flamethrower has struck out 19 batters over his last 13 innings while holding opponents to a .159 batting average. His ERA over that span is 2.77. Rondon’s FIP is a sparkling 2.98, suggesting that he’s been much better than advertised. Unless he implodes down the stretch (we’re talking volcanic implosion folks) and implodes again during Spring Training, Rondon will be on the Tigers Opening Day roster in 2016.

Alex Wilson

In a season devoid of too many positives, Alex Wilson may be the Tigers’ MVP—at least on the mound. Wilson has done just about everything imaginable for Detroit.

Save a game(s)—check.

Start a game—check.

Pitch situationally—check.

Pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen—check.

In case you need any more convincing on Wilson, here are his numbers: 60.1 innings pitched, 47 appearances, two saves, one game started, 1.79 ERA.

Where the Tigers would be without Wilson, no one is sure. Barring the unforeseen, he’s playing an integral part on the team next year.

Blaine Hardy

Blaine Hardy has officially proven that last season was no fluke. The former Royals farmhand is the proud owner of a 2.68 ERA (his FIP is only 2.73) over 53.2 innings. He’s struck out 47 batters over that span and is just about as much of a lock as Wilson is.

Al Alburquerque

For as much as the Tigers’ bullpen has struggled/been lambasted, Al Alburquerque has developed into some of an “old-reliable” type. The reliever has posted a career ERA of 2.99 and his FIP has never eclipsed four. He’ll be back.


Anibal Sanchez

Anibal Sanchez may be having a down year—or he may be regressing, it’s hard to tell. If anything, he’s certainly not the pitcher he was in 2013 when he led the American League in ERA, FIP and home runs allowed per nine innings (0.4 to be exact). Sanchez ERA this year is an unsightly 4.99 while he’s allowed a Majors-leading 29 home runs. His FIP? 4.72.

With a contract that calls for $48 million over the next three seasons, Detroit could trade him for another bad contract to fill a different need. The Tigers obviously are thin in the starting pitching department, but if Sanchez continues to allow home runs at the rate he’s at, the team may as well let someone like Fulmer loose than continue trot out Sanchez every fifth day.

Neftali Feliz

Former Rangers closer Neftali Feliz has a world of potential, but has been inexplicably awful for the Tigers. In 16 innings he’s allowed 19 earned runs while posting an ugly 11.93 ERA. Whether he makes the team next year will depend on how much bullpen help is added in the offseason and if the team thinks he can turn it around.

Buck Farmer and Kyle Ryan

If either of these pitchers are in the Tigers’ rotation in 2016 on a consistent basis, it will either be because the team isn’t contending, or because one of the two has turned a corner in their development.

Neither has shown the ability to be a consistent starter in the bigs, with Farmer the owner of a 7.80 ERA and Ryan sporting a 5.94 earned run average. Given the number of young arms near or at the major league level (Norris, Fulmer, Boyd and Luis Cessa), Detroit may be hard-pressed to find a role for either Farmer or Ryan. A year of seasoning in Triple-A wouldn’t hurt either.

Randy Wolf

Wolf will only be on the Tigers’ roster next season if he doesn’t retire after the season, can be effective down the stretch, and if Detroit wants him back. Given the team’s young arms and the likelihood that they’ll add a starter (or two) in the offseason, Wolf could find his way back to the team as a swingman.

Ian Krol

One-time Nationals pitcher Ian Krol is running out of opportunities to stick in Detroit. He’s only 24-years-old, but owns a 5.67 ERA in a Tigers’ uniform. His FIP isn’t much better at 5.30.

Things have only become worse for Krol, whose earned run average this year is 6.75. He’s also walked nearly as many batters as runs allowed. Not a pretty stat when your ERA is close to seven. Like Feliz, he’s not a goner purely based on potential and age.

Shane Greene

The Tigers seem to believe in Greene long-term, ergo his place in the “maybes” section. If anything, he may spend the year refining his craft at Triple-A.

His numbers have been all kinds of ugly this year—6.88 (!) ERA, 103 hits allowed in only 83.2 innings, 13 home runs allowed, 5.13 FIP… the list goes on. In fact, if you take out Greene’s phenomenal start, during which he put up an ERA of 0.39, his ERA jumps to 9.35 in 60.2 innings. Opponents hit .351 off him during those games.  Here’s hoping he can turn it around.

Kyle Lobstein

Lobstein’s injury absence may be one of the least talked about aspects of the Tigers season.

The man who Brad Ausmus once called “Lobber” had a respectable 4.34 ERA to go along with a 3-45 record in eight starts before hitting the disabled list. If Lobstein had absorbed some of Greene/Farmer/Ryan/Alfredo Simon’s rough starts, Detroit would be in a much better place right now. Lobstein may be relegated to a swing-man role next season. He’s in a good spot to make the team next season, but isn’t a lock given the fact that Al Avila will likely sign/trade for two new starters.

Guido Knudson and Drew VerHagen

If the above-mentioned duo make the team next year it will be because they showed well down the stretch and in Spring Training. The rest of the season is their audition.

Likely Departures

Alfredo Simon

Despite Simon’s stellar start against the Rangers, he’s struggled too much to be asked back next season. Racking up 11 wins is a positive, but not when your ERA is 5.85 since the start of June. His contract is up, and unless he wants to become a reliever again, he’ll be leaving Detroit.

Tom Gorzelanny

Another player on an expiring contract, Gorzelanny has also struggled in Motown.

Pick whatever synonym of ugly that you like and that word describes Gorzelanny’s run prevention on the mound this season. His ERA is an atrocious (you win a prize if that was your ugly synonym) 6.21 while he’s walked 19 batters and allowed 21 runs in just 29 innings. The former Pirate simply hasn’t had his best stuff this season.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Detroit Tigers Lineup vs the Chicago Cubs 8/18/15

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Dave Dombrowski Out as Detroit Tigers’ General Manager

The architect who brought the Detroit Tigers back to baseball relevancy is no longer with the team. The Tigers announced the move just this afternoon. The announcement also revealed Dombrowski’s successor: longtime-Tigers executive/ Dombrowski’s right-hand man Al Avila.

The announcement also had a few interesting nuggets of information. The most prominent being Avila stating that “We’re confident we can make a strong push to win this year, and that we have the foundation in place to win next year and for years to come.”

This goes against Dombrowski previous statements were he essentially said the team wasn’t going to win the World Series this season.

Dombrowski will be best known not only for turning around baseball in Detroit, but for fleecing other teams in trades. He acquired Miguel Cabrera, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and David Price for relatively little given the prominence of the players. Another brilliant move? Turning the expensive Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson into Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke.

Other masterstrokes include finding gems like J.D. Martinez, Al Alburquerque and Blaine Hardy off the scrap heap.

The changing of the guard in the front office may or may not impact Brad Ausmus’ future with the team, however a late postseason push/appearance may help the manager’s cause.

Still, things are changing in Detroit (baseball-wise). It started with Jim Leyland leaving and continues with Dombrowski exiting stage left. The appointment of the already-employed Avila ensures that there won’t be much adjustment in terms of the change.

Avila’s statements about contending this year should sit very well with a Tigers’ fan base that has seen the team trade away Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria in an effort to “reboot” for next season.

Detroit’s GM is no longer Dave Dombrowski, the team will now place the baseball-decision making duties in Al Avila’s hands. Hopefully for Tigers fans, Avila can deliver a World Series-winning squad.

Detroit Tigers: Time for Dave Dombrowski to Pull His Usual Trade Deadline Magic

With the news that the Detroit Tigers are in fact not going to be sellers, its once again time for general manager Dave Dombrowski to pull is standard trade deadline magic.

The Tigers need the help, and thankfully, Dombrowski is adept at providing it.

Dombrowski has a long history of winning trades. He fleeced the Marlins for Miguel Cabrera, turned Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson into Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke as well as acquiring Yoenis Cespedes and Alex Wilson (plus a prospect) for Rick Porcello.

While those trades are wonderfully lopsided (at least in the Tigers’ favor), some of the Tigers GM’s best work has come at the trade deadline. He convinced the Mariners into parting with Doug Fister essentially for a singular reliever while acquiring Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante for what has amounted to a couple of A-ball pitchers.

However, the most impressive trade on Dombrowski’s resume may have been dealing for David Price. The Tigers dealt Austin Jackson, Drew Smyly and Willy Adames (a top shortstop prospect, but not one that was going to unseat Jose Iglesias as the team’s long-term starter) in order to acquire their current ace.

It’s time for Dombrowski to work that same magic.

There’s probably skepticism in the Tigers adding at the trade deadline. If you made a dollar for every time someone lambasted Detroit’s “lack of a farm system,” you’d have more cash than Bill Gates. Still, Dombrowski acquired Price without surrendering a hoard of top prospects, and did the same with both Fister and Sanchez.

It would not be surprising to see Dombrowski dip into the Tigers’ farm system and deal for talent. The reality is that Detroit’s system isn’t nearly as bad as people think. Two of the team’s top prospects last year (Detroit was again critiqued for having a bad farm system), now rank as two of Baseball America’s top 50 prospects in. Both were traded at the deadline, but it just goes to show that the prospects in the Tigers’ system may get a bad rap.

Additionally, the system has produced notable, young big leaguers such as Devon Travis, Smyly, Avisail Garcia, Eugenio Suarez, Nick Castellanos and James McCann.

Travis is hitting .302 in his rookie year in Toronto. Smyly has been injured a good deal since heading to Tampa Bay, but owns a stellar 1.96 ERA as a member of the Rays. Like Travis, Suarez has been a force at the plate for his new team, hitting .315 with five home runs and 18 RBI in only 35 games. Garcia is a cornerstone player for the White Sox, while Castellanos is finally showing signs of being the hitter the Tigers envisioned when they drafted him. McCann has quickly established himself as one of the premier young backstops in the league, making Alex Avila and his comparatively massive salary expandable.

If anything, the trade for Price, with Adames and Smyly going the other way, has proven that Detroit’s system is underrated. While it is unlikely that consensus top prospect Steven Moya is moved, the team has a glut of minor league catchers and relievers that may interest teams. The Tigers are set behind the plate with McCann and have Bryan Holaday in Triple-A. They could deal Avila, or top catching prospects Grayson Grenier, Shane Zeile or Arvicent Perez. Infield prospect Javier Betancourt (Adames’ former double-play partner) could also be dealt in the right trade given not only Iglesias and Ian Kinsler’s presences, but also the presence of two-way infield prospect Dixon Machado.

Regardless of who is traded, it’s time for Dombrowski to slightly rejig the team in an attempt to claim the World Series. The Tigers have the offense to succeed in October, and can look to their division-rival Royals as an example of a team that (last year) made a second-half run all the way to Game Seven.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Detroit Tigers: Series Against Mariners is a Golden Opportunity

Things aren’t going according to plain in Detroit. Not a single soul thought the team would be below .500 this far into the season. Sure, the starting pitching would be taking a slight step back, but the defense would be much better, as would the bullpen. And oh yeah, the offense would still be dynamite.

But the Tigers started to miss breaks, for lack of a better term (you know, the opposite of catching breaks). Victor Martinez struggled out of the gate before missing a chunk of time on the disabled list. Justin Verlander was on the DL for the first two months of the season and has been up-and-down upon returning. Both Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene scuffled mightily after encouraging starts. Anibal Sanchez struggled initially (before settling down) and Miguel Cabrera is on a long, injury induced break.

Yeah, things aren’t great in Motown.

Throw in the potential free agent departures of David Price and Yoenis Cespedes as well as the fact that the Tigers will enter the week 10.5 games behind Kansas City in the Central and you have even more uncertainty.

But hey, the Mariners are coming to town!

The Seattle Mariners, owners of the American League’s worst record, come to Comerica for four games. Detroit went into cavernous Safeco Field just a few weeks ago and turned the pitcher’s park into a launch pad for home runs.

Detroit will face the same team that served up all those bombs, without Felix Hernandez. King Felix started at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, meaning he’ll miss the series. Instead, the Tigers will face Hisashi Iwakuma, Taijuan Walker, Mike Montgomery and J.A. Happ.

During the series in Seattle, the Tigers scored 14 times combined against Iwakuma, Walker and Happ. They plated five against both Iwakuma and Walker, while they put four across against Happ. Happ’s home ERA is 2.66. His road ERA is 5.59.

Throw in a suspect Seattle bullpen and an offense that is Nelson-Cruz-and-no-one-else, Detroit has a major chance to get back into the thick of things. While Detroit is 10.5 games back in the division, they are a much more manageable 4.5 games back in the wild card.

This could be there chance to get on a roll and reenter the playoff race, if not the division race. Crazier things have happened.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Players the Tigers Should Target at the Trade Deadline: Tyler Clippard and Scott Kazmir

With the baseball season reaching its annual All-Star break, things aren’t exactly ginger-peachy in the Motor City. The win-now Detroit Tigers own a .500 record at 44-44 and are nine games out of first place. Given the Tigers’ recent track record and desire to win, you’d expect them to be major buyers at the trade deadline. Here are some of the players Detroit and general manager Dave Dombrowski should target at the trade deadline.

Tyler Clippard

Since leaving the New York Yankees in an ill-fated trade for Jonathan Albaladejo, Clippard has long since established himself as one of the premier relievers in the league. Since 2009, his accomplishments include two All-Star appearances, a 32 save season (2012) and another season in which he won 11 contests without starting a game.

Clippard’s ERA since ’09 is a sparkling 2.62 over a whopping 490.2 innings. Over that span, he’s struck out 557 batters. The reliever is now in Oakland following an offseason trade, and has predictably thrived in the cavernous confines of the O.co Coliseum. He’s solidified himself as the team’s closer with 17 saves on the campaign.

Adding the reliever would do a number of things for Detroit’s bullpen. Not only would the addition of Clippard improve the group, it would also ease pressure on the other pitchers. Clippard set-up Joakim Soria in the eighth, therefore allowing Alex Wilson, Blaine Hardy, Al Alburquerque, Neftali Feliz and Bruce Rondon to pitch the seventh inning or earlier in situations with more margin for error and less pressure.

(RELATED: Neftali Feliz Signing a Smart Move by the Tigers)

Scott Kazmir

While Clippard would help stabilize the bullpen, Scott Kazmir would bring much needed help to a rotation that is practically begging for it.

David Price has been everything and more in terms of being the team’s ace, while Anibal Sanchez has rebound as of late (5-0 record, .182 batting average against and a 2.84 ERA over his last six starts). Outside of those two and a seemingly rebounding Justin Verlander, there are major question marks in the Detroit rotation. Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene both started out pitching superbly. The key words there are “started out”. Both have been horrible lately, and Kyle Ryan and Buck Farmer haven’t been much better.

If healthy, Kazmir would fix some of those issues. He can’t clone himself, but he’d be a massive upgrade.

The former Tampa Bay ace hasn’t been racking up the wins like last season when he posted 15. Still, Kazmir has lowered his ERA by nearly an entire run, going from 3.55 last season to 2.49 this year. His walks are up slightly (2.4 last season, 3.0 per nine innings this season), but so are his strikeouts— 7.8 in 2014, 8.5 in 2015.

With only five wins on the season, Kazmir could follow a similar route to Doug Fister in terms of winning significantly more games in Detroit thanks to much-improved run support. He may not be an ace, but he’d fit in well in Motown as the Tigers’ second or third starter.


The A’s farm system is not what it once was, specifically in the pitching department. Six of Oakland’s top eight prospects (including their top four overall, according to MLB.com) are position players. Going on that, a number of Tigers pitching prospects could interest Billy Beane and company. Angel Nesbitt showed flashes of potential, as well as a blazing fastball, during his stint in Detroit earlier this season. He may benefit a stint pitching in the O.co Coliseum. Tigers’ Futures Game representative Joe Jimenez could also interest Oakland.

(RELATED: Players the Tigers Could Move at the Trade Deadline)

The Tigers’ rotation struggles have been well documented, but one thing they have brought to light is the number of starters who are near big-league ready. Any one of Farmer, Ryan or Drew VerHagen could thrive in spacious Oakland. Detroit could also dangle infield prospect Dixon Machado.


While both players are rentals, but they might be the difference in the Tigers making or missing the playoffs. Beane will likely sell high on two of his better assets, but Detroit should at the very least kick the tires on both, if not acquire them outright.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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3 Stats from the Detroit Tigers 5-4 Win vs the Chicago White Sox

  • Zero

The number of runs allowed by the Tigers bullpen. Bruce Rondon and Joakim Soria threw scoreless innings. Rondon pitched a perfect inning, striking out one batter. Soria was a tad more dicey, allowing two hits while striking out one in the ninth to close out the game. It was Soria’s 17th save.

  • Two

The number of hits by second baseman Ian Kinsler. The infielder has been in a bit of a slump, so the fact that he collected two hits and scored a run across four plate appearances can only be viewed as a positive. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end of his slump.

  • Seven

The number of strikeouts by Anibal Sanchez over seven innings. The former Miami Marlin allowed six hits, four runs (all earned), two walks and three home runs. He earned a no decision as Rondon picked up the win.

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3 Stats from the Detroit Tigers 6-0 Win vs the Chicago Cubs

  • 13

The number of hits by the Tigers as a team each Tigers hitter produced a base knock, including Josh Wilson, who is now hitting .462 since joining Detroit.

  • Six

The number of hits allowed by Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez in 7.2 innings pitched. Sanchez didn’t allow any runs and struck out seven. He walked two. Hopefully this start turns things around for the former Marlin, whose ERA sits at 5.16 on the season.

  • Two

The number of hits allowed by the Tigers bullpen. Joba Chamberlain and Alex Wilson combined to hold the Cubs scoreless and finish the shutout. Both relievers have ERAs under two this season. Chamberlain’s is 1.13 while Wilson’s is 1.86.

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3 Stats from the Detroit Tigers 6-1 Loss vs the Oakland Athletics

  • Four

The number of hits by the Tigers. This is detrimental to scoring runs and winning games against most pitchers, but when you do so against Sonny Gray, you’re almost guaranteed to lose.

  • Two

The number of hits by Miguel Cabrera. The slugger’s average moved to .335 after the game. The former MVP accounted for half the Tigers hits and drove in the team’s only run.

  • 136

The number of pitches thrown by the Tigers. Anibal Sanchez had 104 of them over seven innings while Tom Gorzelanny, Angel Nesbitt and Alex Wilson combined to throw 32 pitches, spanning two innings. Gorzelanny and Nesbitt allowed two hits, two runs (both earned) and a walk in two innings after Sanchez allowed four earned runs.