Tigers Catching Options Without Bryan Holaday

Any plans for the Tigers to call up catcher Bryan Holaday when rosters expand in September have been sufficiently dashed. The catcher recently injured his thumb during a game in with Triple-A Toledo and will likely miss the rest of the season.

The news comes as a blow to the Tigers given Holaday’s status as the team’s third catcher. Third-string catchers are generally locks to be called up during September when rosters expand simply based on the beating catchers take. In other words, more depth is always nice.

Detroit will have to find different depth, at least for this season.

Holaday was hitting .205 in 46 Triple-A games, but put up much better numbers at the big-league level. The 27-year-old produced a .271 batting average and 12 RBI in only 16 games. The catcher spent last season as Alex Avila’s primary backup, but was sent to Toledo this time around thanks to James McCann’s emergence. It’s widely thought that Holaday has the inside track in terms of being McCann’s backup next season should Avila depart via free agency in the offseason.

Given that McCann, Avila and Holaday are the only catchers on the Tigers’ 40-man roster, a move will have to be made to add another. There is an open spot on the 40-man roster, but that spot is likely going to Kyle Lobstein, who is nearing a return from an injury of his own.

Regardless of who vacates a 40-man roster slot, Detroit will likely be in the market for a new catcher. There are a few in-house options, as well as the possibility that a number of players could hit the waiver wire once teams start expanding their rosters come September.

In terms of in-house options, Detroit already has both Manny Pina and Miguel Gonzalez in Toledo, but their respective numbers don’t inspire much confidence.

The 28-year-old Pina is a career .188 hitter in the majors. His Triple-A batting average (.239) isn’t much better.

Gonzalez has minimal big-league experience, but did collect two hits in nine plate appearances with the White Sox two years ago. However, he did strike out (three) more times than he did reach base. Gonzalez has hit an underwhelming .195 in 28 games with Toledo.

All told, the Pina/Gonzalez duo has ten games of major league experience.

If Pina or Gonzalez isn’t handed the role of third-string catcher, let’s be clear, Detroit isn’t going to give up much more than a PTNBL/cash for a catcher who likely will have to beat Holaday for a job next spring training.

That being said, there are players cut all the time. Both Eric Fryer and Taylor Teagarden were recently designated for assignment, and while neither is a world-beater, they are solid third-choice catchers.

Reserve catchers can become available at the drop of a hat given other team’s personnel decisions. When one becomes available in the coming months, don’t be surprised to see the Tigers pounce on one.

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

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Detroit Tigers: Steven Moya and/or Mike Hessman Should Be Called Up in September

With September right around the corner, the Detroit Tigers will soon be joining the rest of Major League Baseball in the process of calling up players when rosters expand. There are a number of players who seem locks to be called up (Bryan Holaday, Ian Krol and Dixon Machado) while others’ chances aren’t guaranteed (Marc Krauss, Jeff Ferrell and Wynton Bernard).

Regardless of the other players packing their bags and heading to Detroit, there is one type of player the Tigers will almost surely call up– a slugging, bench bat.

As of now, the two obvious (and really only) candidates are Steven Moya and Mike Hessman. Expect at least one of the players to get the call come September—if not both.

The Case for Moya

At 24-years-old, Steven Moya ranks as the Tigers’ prospect—even after the trade deadline acquisitions of top prospects like Michael Fulmer, Luis Cessa, JaCoby Jones and Jairo Labourt.

Moya has (insert adjective here, somewhere between outstanding and exceptional) power as well as a strong arm and the ability to run well. The only knack on him is that he doesn’t really hit for average, and strikes out a lot (129 in 103 games at Triple-A this season). The lack of hitting for average (as well as a low walk rate), could hurt Moya. However, if he can hit even .250, he’ll enjoy at least a 10-year career. He’s got that kind of power.

Adding him to the roster in September would give the team a powerful—if raw—bench option. He can also provide dependable defense while also brining some speed. If called up, the Tigers will be hoping that Moya’s experience in September will help pave the way to bigger things next season, similar to James McCann’s situation last year.

The Case for Hessman

While the 37-year-old Hessman doesn’t possess the same potential as Moya due to his age, he does bring power.

The veteran is the minors’ all-time home run leader, with a whopping 433 minor league bombs. He has 16 in 103 Triple-A games to go along with 52 RBI, 21 doubles and four (!) triples. Like Moya, Hessman has never been much of a contact hitter. He’s hitting .241 this season and is a career .233 hitter in the minors.

For all his power, one would think the minor league home run king would have received an extended look in the big leagues. However, Hessman has never logged more than 32 games in a season and has only played in 109 big-league games.

While his career batting average in the majors (.188) isn’t pretty, Hessman has actually performed solidly while wearing a Tigers uniform. In 29 career games with Detroit the slugger has mashed nine home runs to go along with 19 RBI, a double and 13 runs scored. He hit .256 with a .945 OPS over that span. Here’s hoping, should he be called up, that he repeat those numbers.

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

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Recently DFA’d Players the Detroit Tigers Should Take Fliers On

With the Tigers opening up a number of roster spots thanks to the trades of David Price, Joakim Soria and Yoenis Cespedes, the team will be auditioning players for next year to see who fits on the team moving forward. Granted all three roster spots have been filled, but other roster spots aren’t set in stone.

Their rare a number of bullpen pieces struggling that could be demoted if not cut out-right, while Buck Farmer could be optioned if Detroit feels another one of its young arms is better suited for the current rotation.

If anything, the second half of this season is a chance for Detroit to examine players with an eye towards next year. The new additions could also propel the Tigers towards the playoffs. The American League wild card is wide open, and Miguel Cabrera returns from the disabled list in only a few short weeks.

  • Vance Worley

2015 Stats: 4-5, 3.78 ERA, 3.76 FIP, 20 games (8 starts)

Worley was solid/effective during his time in Pittsburgh. He posted a 3.21 ERA and a 3.56 FIP as Pirate, working in the rotation and out of the bullpen. Worley’s ERA as a starter was 4.81, but he posted a much more acceptable 2.08 ERA when entering games as a reliever. Never a big strikeout pitcher, the former Minnesota Twin has had a fairly successful career and is only 27.

If the Tigers acquire him, he can be a controllable and reliable swing-man. Worley could also serve as a rotation place-holder for some of the young arms acquired at the deadline. At the same time, he would also provide the Tigers opportunity to win some games down the stretch.

  • Danny Valencia

2015 Stats: .296 batting average, 7 home runs, 29 RBI, 20 XBH (extra-base hits), .838 OPS

A surprising DFA victim by the Blue Jays after Toronto’s trade deadline-dealing bonanza, Valencia hits the waiver system with plenty of upside. At 29, the versatile player can fill in at first base, third base and left field while providing an above-average bat. Valencia is hitting .316 against left-handed pitching this season while posting a .279 clip against righties. Not only would the former Twin provide another option in left field, he would also give Brad Ausmus another option at first base while the Tigers wait for Cabrera to return.

  • Brandon Beachy

2015 Stats: 0-1, 7.88 ERA, 10 hits and seven runs allowed, 2 starts, 10 innings pitched.

Brandon Beachy’s numbers this year are bad, real bad. But if you consider he’s just returned from an injury and that he hasn’t pitched in two years, the numbers aren’t so awful. While the right-hander’s showing this year isn’t that appealing, his track record is. The 28-year-old posted a 3.23 ERA and a 3.34 FIP in 267.2 innings for the Braves. Beachy is still young and could still regain the effectiveness he displayed in Atlanta. Like Worley, he could be a place-holder or long-term piece at the back end of the Tigers rotation. Once he works things out, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him post 10-12 wins on a contending team with strong run support.

  • Roberto Hernandez

2015 Stats: 20 appearances, 11 starts, 4.36 ERA, 4.43 FIP, 4.5 strikeouts-per-nine-innings

Roberto Hernandez is not a long-term piece, not even close. His ERA is passable (not to mention the definition of a back-of-the-rotation arm) and his strikeouts-per-nine numbers aren’t pretty. However, as low-risk a placeholder this year for a Tigers team looking to win some games? Well, in that case he just might work. Hernandez isn’t the world-beater that he was as a member of the Indians, but he could give the Tigers some innings down the stretch. Think of the Tigers signing him similar to the team’s signing of Freddy Garcia. It would be in no way anything long-term, but it would be a mutually beneficial move. Hernandez would serve as a placeholder for pitchers like Luis Cessa and Michael Fulmer.

  • Bud Norris

2015 Stats: 2-9, 7.06 ERA, 5.58 FIP, 18 games, 11 starts

Somewhere in between Worley/Beachy and Hernandez is Bud Norris. Norris won 15 (!) games for the Orioles last season, posting a 3.65 ERA in 165.1 innings pitched. At 30, he doesn’t have the youth of Worley or Beachy, but he’s proven that he can win games. Like Worley and Beachy, he’s a solid bet for double-digit wins and a solid-but-not spectacular ERA on a winning team that comes with good run support. If the Tigers think they can get 2014-like stats from Norris, then the team should sign him. At worst he’s a meh signing that can be discarded at any time (or in the offseason). In other words, he’s worth a shot.

  • Caleb Thielbar

2015 Stats: 5.40 ERA, 6 appearances, 5 Strikeouts, 1.08 FIP

Finally, a potential long-term piece. Thielbar has struggled in a small sample-size this season, but has a strong track record over the past two seasons. The former Brewers farmhand entered 2015 with a career 2.59 ERA in 93.2 innings pitched accumulated over two seasons. His FIP over that span spits out to a slightly-less favorable 3.48, but when a player like Thielbar hits the open market, they generally tend not to last long. Thielbar is only 27-years-old, is controllable/cheap and has shown that he can be a productive reliever. Detroit should take a flier on him to see if he’s a potential piece for next year. The team’s tried just about everything, and Thielbar might be a solution.

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

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Detroit Tigers: Grading the Tigers’ Trade Deadline Trades

As the MLB Trade Deadline passed, the Detroit Tigers firmly planted their flag on the “rebooting” side of things (as they like to call it). For a team that was so used to buying at the deadline, the Tigers replenished their farm system (the most overused term of the day) and generally did well for themselves.

General manager Dave Dombrowski turned rental players David Price, Joakim Soria and Yoenis Cespedes into prospects Daniel Norris (Van Man!), Jairo Labourt, Matt Boyd, Michael Fulmer, Luis Cessa and JaCoby Jones.

All seven players are now top-fifteen prospects in the Detroit system, per MLB.com.

While the Tigers system was heavy on position players, Dombrowski and company clearly focused on adding pitching. Norris is already in the Tigers’ rotation while Boyd, Cessa and Fulmer have the potential to join him next season. This won’t happen obviously, but it gives the team more options moving forward than Buck Farmer and Kyle Ryan.

Now onto the grades.

The Trade: Price to Toronto for Norris, Labourt and Boyd

Grade: A

The Tigers probably weren’t going to re-sign David Price thanks to his likely out-of-this-world price tag, and did well to cash in on him when they had the chance. Norris is a future front-line starter and already owns a 3.86 ERA this season in five starts for the Jays. He’ll likely fill Price’s shoes in the coming years and gives the Tigers a legitimate piece to build around—pitching wise.

Labourt is a potential starter, but control issues may force him to the bullpen. At worst, he’s a reliever at the big-league. The former Jays’ farmhand is the “lottery ticket” of the deal and the hardest to project. Norris and Boyd are more surefire bets to make The Show, but Labourt has a chance talent-wise.

Last but not least, Boyd has big league potential. He’s displayed good control and feel for his pitches. This has clearly been on display this season with the left-hander posting a 9-2 record with a 1.68 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 112.2 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting a measly .178 off him. The former sixth-round pick has been effective at both Double-A and Triple-A, so a Major League call up may not be far away. Worst-case-scenario (in terms of his future) he’ll compete for a job with the Tigers next Spring Training.

The Trade: Soria to Pittsburgh for Minor League Shortstop JaCoby Jones

Grade: B+

While not the biggest haul for Soria, Jones is an intriguing prospect. Well, maybe “intriguing” is underselling the point. Tigers’ fans probably thought Soria would bring more of a return, but Jones has the chance to be special.

Granted he’s still a work-in-progress, but the Double-A shortstop has raw power to go along with plus speed. He’s big for a shortstop (6’2”) and has the athleticism to play other positions. The outfield is also a possibility for a player who has drawn comparisons to Adam Jones.

Jones comes with a great deal of risk, but his combination of raw power, plus speed and elite athleticism (not to mention his ability as a plus-plus defender at a number of positions) make him a player with difference-maker/star potential. He’s certainly worth the gamble for a half season of Soria.

The Trade: Cespedes to the Mets for Fulmer and Cessa

Grade: A

If Labourt (acquired in the Price trade), pans out as a big-league starter, the Tigers will have acquired an entire starting rotation for Price and Cespedes. Judging on a number of reports, tweets and what-have-you, the Mets seemed to like Fulmer a lot.

And rightfully so, Fulmer has a mid-90’s fastball and some nasty off-speed offerings. In terms of the future, it’s not hard to imagine Norris and Fulmer headlining the Tigers’ rotation for a decade. The former first-round pick was blocked in New York thanks to the presence all the Mets’ young starters (i.e. Zach Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom), so a move to Detroit is clearly beneficial for his future prospects.

Cessa is another starting pitcher who profiles as a back-end starter more than anything. He’s a converted infielder with a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90’s with two off-speed offerings that could play in the Majors. He’s struggled at Triple-A this season, but nonetheless shows promise.

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

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Detroit Tigers: Former Infielders Hitting Well With Other Teams

What do the Toronto Blue Jays’ Devon Travis, the Cincinnati Reds’ Eugenio Suarez and the Milwaukee Brewers’ Hernan Perez have in common?

Not only are they all 24-years-old, they were all at one time (in the last year) a member of the Detroit Tigers’ farm system. Another trait they have in common? They’ve all been pretty successful with the bat this season.

Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays

Acquired from the Tigers for centerfielder Anthony Gose, Travis established himself as an early candidate for Rookie of the Year honors with a .325 batting average, six home runs and 19 RBI over the season’s first month. The second baseman struggled in May (his average dropped to .269), and eventually hit the disabled list.

The former Tigers’ farmhand returned in late June and has been on a tear ever since. His batting average since returning is an absurd .354. His home run (0) and RBI (eight) numbers since aren’t the same as before, but no one can deny Travis’ hitting ability.

The Tigers certainly aren’t complaining. Travis wouldn’t have unseated Ian Kinsler at second, while Gose has provided strong defense in center to go along with a .272 batting average and 14 steals in 82 games. Gose has also contributed 19 extra-base hits.

Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds

Sent to the Reds in the Alfredo Simon trade, Eugenio Suarez has been almost as much of a surprise as Travis at the plate. The shortstop didn’t make the team out of Spring Training, but has been excellent since being called up. He’s hitting .313 with five (!) home runs and 18 RBI in 36 games. His OPS is .825 and he’s already earned a WAR of 1.

With the Reds going through a transition with Johnny Cueto now departed, look for Suarez to receive more at-bats as the team evaluates for the future. Safe to say Suarez has already made quite the first impression.
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Hernan Perez, Milwaukee Brewers

Lost via waiver claim to the Brewers in early June, Hernan Perez, like Travis and Suarez, has raked. The American League’s eighth youngest player in 2012 owns a .311 batting average in 41 games for the Brew Crew after an awful .061 line in 22 games for Detroit. Perez has driven in four runs and smacked 11 extra-base hits (nine doubles, a triple and a home run) while playing three positions across the infield.

Like Cincinnati, Milwaukee is going through a transitional period. Perez seems to be making the best of the situation.

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

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Detroit Tigers: Low-Buy Trade Targets to Improve the Bullpen

The Detroit Tigers have whittled their bullpen (in terms of reliability) down to four pitchers setting up closer Joakim SoriaAlex Wilson, Blaine Hardy,  Al Alburquerque and Neftali Feliz.

The rest have been maddeningly inconsistent. Bruce Rondon and Ian Krol seem like long-term pieces, however both have abnormally high ERAs (in albeit small sample sizes). Rondon’s is 9.35 in 8.2 innings while Krol’s is 6.14 in 14.2 innings.

If the Feliz’ arrival has shown the Tigers anything, it’s that quality relief options are available—and they may just need a change of scenery to thrive. Here are some low-buy trade targets the Tigers could look into in order to bolster the team’s bullpen.

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

Steve Cishek, Miami Marlins

Per the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, the Tigers have been watching Steve Cishek. This makes sense.

Cishek struggled mightily to start the year, so much so that he was sent down to Double-A to work things out. The former closer is back with the big league club, and seems to have figured things out. As a setup reliever since June 14th, Cishek has a 0.93 ERA and nine strikeouts in 9.2 innings.

The most unnecessary luxury on a losing team is a good reliever, so if Miami sells off pieces, Cishek may be out the door. He’s even more expandable considering how well A.J. Ramos has fared as a closer (1.55 ERA, 14 saves). This isn’t even to mention the presences of Sam Dyson (3.48 ERA), Bryan Morris (3.31) and Carter Capps (1.55).

It seems that the Tigers like to acquire relievers with closing experience to serve in a non-closer role. This has happened with everyone from Jim Johnson and Joel Hanrahan to Joakim Soria and Feliz. Cishek (94 careers saves) would fit the mold.

Addison Reed, Arizona Diamondbacks

Yet another former closer who’s had troubles, former White Sox reliever Addison Reed would be the ultimate low-buy for the Tigers.

Reed has a career 4.39 ERA, including a 5.92 number this year, but when you look at the numbers more closely, he comes off as a much better pitcher. The former closer’s FIP is a much-more-acceptable 3.84 this year. In other words, the Diamondbacks aren’t doing him any favors defensively.

Over the course of a year-and-a-half in the desert, Reed has nine losses and 35 saves (only three this season). His ERA in Arizona is 4.73. Going purely on those numbers alone, the D-Backs may be inclined to move him, especially considering the team’s depth chart.

Arizona is stocked with quality relievers, from closer Brad Ziegler to setup relievers Andrew Chafin (2.90 ERA), to Randall Delgado (2.93 ERA) and the duo of Daniel Hudson and Oliver Perez (3.32 and 3.46 respectively).

Reed isn’t even on the team’s big league roster. They’d probably be more than open to moving him, especially given his salary. Nonetheless, he’d be a good low-buy option for the Tigers, especially with his closing expertise (104 career saves).

Joe Thatcher, (Formerly of the) Houston Astros

Finally! A non-closer. Joe Thatcher was just designated for assignment by the Astros and is available. Not only is Thatcher wildly non-expensive, relative to his value, he’s also been consistent for Houston.

Thatcher has a respectable 3.79 ERA and an even more attractive 3.17 FIP. The former Angel has struggled of late (27.00 ERA in last five appearances, spanning 1.1 innings), but was dynamite before that. In 31 appearances prior to the struggles, Thatcher posted a sparkling 2.04 ERA.

Given his relative inexpensiveness and success, the Tigers should take a flier on Thatcher. His arrival would be another step towards having a strong bullpen.

Jean Machi, (Formerly of the) San Francisco Giants

It seems that the piece has now moved from struggling former closers to relievers that were recently designated for assignment. Joining Thatcher in the DFA category is now former Giants’ reliever Jean Machi.

Machi excelled in 2014 and 2014 for the Giants, posting a spectacular 2.49 ERA and a 2.93 FIP in 119.1 innings. He struck out 102 batters over that span while accumulating 10 wins. The four-year veteran would likely pitch earlier in games, a la Hardy, and would provide yet another dependable reliever in the Tigers’ bullpen.

Machi does have a 5.14 ERA this year, but his 4.20 FIP suggests he’s better than his high ERA. Despite those “struggles,” the right-handed pitcher has been filthy against lefties this year. Left-handed hitters have produced a miniscule .120 batting average against Machi. Other nasty numbers? Left-handed batters have posted a .241 OBP and a .160 slugging percentage. That’s good for a .401 OPS against. Those are p-r-e-t-t-y good numbers for someone on the waiver wire.

Since he’s been designated for assignment, the Tigers won’t have to pay much to acquire him. Which is nice when you don’t have a boatload of assets to trade.

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 8-2 Loss vs the Cleveland Indians

  • Zero

The number of at-bats by Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Miggy received a rare day off.

  • Three

The number of strikeouts by Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. With Cabrera getting the day off, everyone moved up a spot in terms of the usual middle of the order. This meant Cespedes hitting cleanup behind Victor Martinez. The outfielder had a single hit in four at-bats, striking out three times.

  • Five

The number of strikeouts by starting pitcher Buck Farmer. Farmer, making a spot start, allowed eight hits and two walks to go along with the five runs (all of which were earned). On the bright side, the youngster did strike out seven Cleveland batters.

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3 Stats from the Detroit Tigers 7-3 Win vs the Cleveland Indians

  • Zero

The number of walks by Tigers starter David Price. The Detroit ace fanned seven batters, allowed one run and nine hits while handing out a grand total of zero free passes. He moved to 7-2 on the season with the win.

  • Five

The number of RBI by the middle of the Detroit order not named Miguel Cabrera. Victor Martinez, Yoenis Cespedes and Nick Castellanos combined to go five-for-twelve at the plate with five RBI and two runs scored.

  • 157

The total number of pitches thrown by the Tigers.  Included in the total number of pitches was 1.1 combined innings of relief from Al Alburquerque and Tom Gorzelanny. The duo didn’t allow a base runner and struck out one batter between them. Alex Wilson allowed three hits and two runs (both unearned) in one inning of relief.

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3 Stats from the Detroit #Tigers 12-4 Win vs the New York Yankees

Rejoice! The stats are back. After a short hiatus, these kind of pieces are back to stay at Know Hitter. Here’s three stats from Detroit’s triumphant 12-4 victory against the Yankees.

  • Three

The number of home runs by J.D. Martinez. Safe to say the dude was on fire. He drove in six runs on the say, propelling the Tigers to the win. The outfielder has never hit more than two bombs in a game, but on Sunday he mashed three.

  • Four

Victor Martinez is officially back ladies and gents. V-Mart posted a very… well, V-Mart stat line during Sunday’s win, going three-for-six with four RBI and two runs scored. In typical fashion, he didn’t strike out once. Like J.D., Victor also went yard. Although in Victor’s case he was limited to one home run. Still, a fantastic day at the plate for one of the league’s best pure hitters.

  • One

The number of times Miguel Cabrera failed to reach base. Miggy collected two hits and two walks, while scoring two runs. He’s hitting an absurd .346 on the season.

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