If it weren’t for the Detroit Tigers’ faulty bullpen, Dave Dombrowski probably wouldn’t have been let go, the team would have won at least one World Series and Jim Leyland may have had a couple more rings on his resume heading into Cooperstown.
“What could have been” probably sums up the situation aptly.
Yet to this day, the Tigers, with all their financial resources, still have a bullpen that surrenders both small leads and big leads alike.
It’s time for the Tigers to stop being patient with their current relievers.
Since trading Joakim Soria at the trade deadline, the Tigers’ bullpen has essentially been Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy doing the heavy lifting with a smattering of Bruce Rondon and Al Alburquerque.
These four are fine relievers to have moving forward, but the others must pick up the slack before the aforementioned four become over-worked and start falling apart.
The rest of the Detroit bullpen options are as follows:
Ian Krol (currently with Triple-A Toledo) — 1-3 record, 26 appearances, 21.1 innings pitched, 6.75 ERA, 5.44 FIP, 22 strikeouts, 13 walks, four home runs allowed.
Neftali Feliz—0-1 record, 10 appearances, 8.2 innings pitched, 14.54 ERA, 7.49 FIP, eight strikeouts, five walks, three home runs allowed.
Buck Farmer (as a reliever) — 0-0 record, two appearances, six innings pitched, 6.00 ERA, one strikeouts, one walk, one home run allowed.
Tom Gorzelanny—1-1 record, 31 appearances, 24.1 innings pitched, 6.66 ERA, 5.24 FIP, 19 strikeouts, 15 walks, three home runs allowed.
Kyle Ryan (as a reliever) — 1-0 record, four appearances, 8.1 innings pitched, 6.48 ERA, five strikeouts, four walks, zero home runs allowed.
Angel Nesbitt (currently with Triple-A Toledo) – 1-1 record, 24 appearances, 21.2 innings pitched, 5.40 ERA, 4.67 FIP, 14 strikeouts, eight walks, two home runs allowed.
Things have to change with this group.
Just when Krol looked to be turning a corner (2.89 ERA in 13 July appearances) he imploded against the Red Sox. One of the pieces acquired in the Doug Fister trade, Krol allowed four runs on four hits and a walk in 0.2 innings. Right handed batters are hitting .320 off the Tigers’ reliever while lefties hit .359 against Krol. He was optioned to Triple-A, with Ryan taking his place.
Maybe the most maddening pitcher in terms of results, Feliz isn’t really this bad. This is the pitcher who won Rookie of the Year while posting a stellar 2.69 ERA and 242 strikeouts in 261.1 innings for Texas—not to mention racking up 93 saves.
Gorzelanny deserves somewhat of a pass because he just returned from a stint at Triple-A to work on a different arm angle. But the former Pittsburgh Pirate did allow Jackie Bradley Jr.’s home run—an uncommon statement given the Boston outfielder’s career .191 batting average and .280 slugging percentage. The one-time starter showed promise early in the season with
Farmer has the taxing job of being the Tigers’ long reliever. The top prospect’s career numbers aren’t pretty to look at as both a starter (11.54 ERA) and a reliever (5.00). The young pitcher has potential, but he may not be ready quite just yet.
Yet another long reliever/starter, Ryan will take Krol’s place in the bullpen. While he’s struggled this season, Ryan actually performed fairly well as a reliever last season, posting four scoreless outings in five total appearances. For now, he’ll be another long option in the ‘pen while allowing the Tigers to experiment with Farmer’s stuff as more of a single-inning reliever.
Angel Nesbitt started the season with plenty of promise, posting a 2.92 ERA in his first 12 appearances. His next 12 appearances didn’t go as swimmingly. The rookie’s ERA was 8.68 over that span while opponents hit an unsightly .359 off him. His ERA in Triple-A Toledo is currently 5.14, so don’t expect to see him in Detroit any time soon.
Something has to change. Detroit can’t keep going back to the same well of relievers when that well has consistently produced poor results. The Tigers haven’t won a World Series ring because of bullpen failures, the team’s new front office should learn from this and fix the bullpen. There are a number of relievers that hit the market on an almost-weekly basis. The Tigers should be taking fliers on all of them to see what sticks ahead of next season.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.