Detroit Tigers: Why Tom Gorzelanny Is the Perfect Signing

The Detroit Tigers’ bullpen has been the team’s ultimate downfall in recent postseasons. From Jose Valverde’s implosion, to the unlikely events in Boston, to the meltdown against Baltimore, the Tigers have had their share of problems in the department of relief pitching.

Take the bullpen struggles and couple them with a newly-minted, but largely-untested, back of the rotation and you realize Tom Gorzelanny is the perfect signing for the Tigers.

He’s not the biggest name, and he won’t summon thoughts of Trevor Hoffman when thought of by the fans, but he’s still a quality addition—an addition that makes sense for the Tigers.

Detroit’s bullpen is bad. You can look at statistic A or statistic B, but the bottom line is that the unit was poor in 2014.

Gorzelanny wasn’t the top option on the market, and with another team may not have been valued as much. However, with the Tigers Gorzelanny is an impact signing.

When I say he wouldn’t have been valued as much with another team, I’m in no way knocking Gorzelanny he had a fantastic season last year, with a 0.89 ERA in 23 innings—it’s just that other teams have more pitching depth.

With the Tigers, Gorzelanny has the potential to make an impact as a reliever and a starter.

The former Pirate made his name as a starting pitcher with Pittsburgh, winning 14 games and posting a 3.88 ERA in his first full major league season. After that, Gorzelanny struggled and eventually moved to the bullpen as a swingman, making the occasional start while predominantly working out of the bullpen.

From 2011 to 2013 he posted a 3.67 ERA in 188 appearances, 26 of which were starts. The lefty struck out 240 batters in 262.1 innings during that span.

The genius of the signing is that Gorzelanny provides ample cover in the Tigers’ two potential problem areas: the bullpen and the back end of the bullpen.

Detroit’s bullpen will be a very different looking bunch in 2015. Two of the team’s most consistent performers, Joba Chamberlain and Blaine Hardy, aren’t likely to feature as prominently. Chamberlain is a free agent and unlikely to return, while Hardy struggled down the stretch and will face competition from the likes of the returning Bruce Rondon and Ian Krol as well as newcomers Alex Wilson, Josh Zeid and Angel Nesbitt.

Gorzelanny is the also the perfect deputy for new starting pitchers Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon.

Should either Greene or Simon struggle, they can shift to the bullpen and work on improving while Gorzelanny fills in for a few starts.

In addition, should Simon have trouble replicating his All-Star numbers from 2014 (which is completely possible given his second-half struggles with the Reds last year), manager Brad Ausmus can flip-flop the two. Gorzelanny has experience in the rotation, while Simon has had success in a relief role. He turned in a 2.78 ERA in 99 relief outings for Cincinnati from 2012 to 2013. He threw 148.2 innings over that span, striking out 115.

If Gorzelanny thrives as a reliever (as his track record would suggest) or does the same in a starting role, it will be a successful signing. Even if he does a little of both and posts respectable numbers, the Tigers will have made another shrewd signing. The transaction was especially shrewd considering Gorzelanny signed for a reported $1 million, much less than fellow pitchers Zach Duke and Andrew Miller fetched.

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

Italian National Team: Familiarity in Conte’s First Squad Selection and will the Trend Continue?

In some situations you go with what you know. That’s exactly what new Italian National Team coach Antonio Conte did with his first squad selection. Of the players selected, many were familiar to Conte at Juve. Some selections seemed more confusing than logical, but no one can argue with the results. Conte dispatched World Cup semifinalist the Netherlands 2-0 in his first game in charge before trumping Norway by an identical score in his first Euro 2016 qualifier.

Of the players called up, 11 have Juve connections to Conte, a potential 12th call up, Andrea Pirlo, was out with an injury. Among the 11 were captain and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, defenders Giorgio Chiellini, Angelo Ogbonna and Leonardo Bonucci, midfielders Claudio Marchisio and Emanuele Giaccherini as well as forwards Simone Zaza, Fabio Quagliarella, Ciro Immobile and Sebastian Giovinco. Another player with a connection to Conte, former Bianconeri forward Daniel Osvaldo was ruled out due to injury.

It remains to be seen how many of these players Conte will use in the future. Form and injury will affect his selections going forward, but it will be interesting to see if he sticks with consistently calling up players he has experience with.

Of the Juve/ex-Juve player contingent, some players are logical locks to be continually called up. Buffon, Pirlo, Chiellini, Bonucci, Marchisio and Immobile can all be placed in that category. Giaccherini is another player who will likely be constantly called upon. Previous coach Cesare Prandelli used the Sunderland midfielder in a utility role while Conte deployed him similarly at Juventus. It’s likely the England-based player will stay with the Azzurri. When healthy, Andrea Barzagli is one of the better center backs in the world, however, injuries have derailed him of late. When he recovers, expect the Juve defenseman to play a part in the national setup at least through the 2016 Euros. Zaza’s recent fine form and a potential move back to Juve could see him cement his place in the national team, regardless of what happens with Mario Balotelli.

The last four are harder to predict. Ogbonna and Giovinco have showed glimpses of talent worthy of the national team, however both have had stretches of inconsistency. In addition, neither are established starters in Turin—something that could work against them. Quagliarella and Osvaldo are harder still to predict. Italy’s forward situation is far from certain. Giuseppe Rossi would be the unquestioned first choice, but another injury will keep the New Jersey born forward out for an extended amount of time. When he finally recovers, he’ll be the number one striker option for Conte. In addition, Alberto Gilardino and Antonio Cassano are both near the end of their international careers while Alessio Cerci, Lorenzo Insigne and Stephan El Shaarawy are all talented but are more likely to play behind the striker, or even in an advanced midfield position. Because of all the depth, it will be interesting to see where Quagliarella and Osvaldo fit with the team moving forward.

Overall, Conte will continue to deploy his old Juve players—most of them at least. Established starters like Buffon, Pirlo and Chiellini will all continue to suit up for their former coach. Other players are harder to predict, but if anything is to be learned from this, it’s that Conte goes with what whom he thinks will fit his tactics. For now, that’s a contingent of Juve players. The main reason is because he knows what he wants to do tactically and he knows that his former players can fit into his system.

Exciting Announcement From the Creator of Knowhitter!

Sports on Terms is coming soon! It will be a soccer/football (whichever term lights your fire) source dedicated to explaining the beautiful game in compact, original videos.

Starting with the most basic, yet crucial, fundamentals and working up to more in-depth topics, Sports on Terms will explain everything from what a “winger” is to how the economy affects not only club teams, but national teams as well.

The website is still a work in progress, but here’s a link to the Youtube channel, which I should warn you, is not complete yet. Be sure to subscribe! The channel is going big places and we want you to be a part of it!

New Blog!!!

Check out my newest creation kingdomeofseattlesports.com. A fantastic new site dedicated to Seattle Sports. Lots of content on the Sonics, Seahawks and Mariners.

Fun fact, has been viewed more times than Squatch the Sasquatch (or Bigfoot for that matter) in the last five years. (Although that may change soon…)

Don’t worry though, knowhitter fans. Your favorite David Stern disapproving blogger will still be rolling out new content.

 

Trade Reaction: Tigers Acquire Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante for Jacob Turner and Prospects

I was surprised that this happened. Not necessarily in a good way.

It was noted, the Tigers’ production at second base has been horrendous this season. Throw all the ugly numbers out there that you want. They have been bad.

A possible starting pitcher was another need seeing as, again throw all your numbers out there, the Tigers’ back end starters, namely the fifth spot, have been inconsistent. Continue reading