Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros would once again make ideal trade partners regarding Michael Fulmer

This is all purely speculative, but the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros would make ideal trade partners if starting pitcher Michael Fulmer is dealt.

The Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros made headlines last August, agreeing to a trade that sent Tigers face of the franchise Justin Verlander, along with minor leaguer Juan Ramirez, to the American League West franchise in a deal for three prospects.

It was a mutually-beneficial deal for all parties.

Verlander allowed just four earned runs in his 34 regular-season innings for the Astros—all four came on solo home runs—before pitching to a 2.21 ERA in 36.2 postseason innings.

He also held opposing batters to a .534 OPS and a .177 batting average against in the playoffs, helping Houston to a World Series crown.

On the flipside, Detroit acquired three key prospects to help hasten the franchise’s rebuild.

Just 20 years old, starting pitcher Franklin Perez looks likely to factor into the rotation sooner rather than later after registering a 3.09 ERA, a 3.69 FIP and 25 strikeouts in 32 innings to end the year at Double-A Corpus Christi.

Meanwhile, outfielder Daz Cameron and catcher Jake Rogers, who finished the year at Single-A and Advanced-A respectively, both look like players capable of making an impact on both sides of the ball.

Moving forward, all three should be in the Majors within the next few seasons.

While it was a prominent haul for Verlander, the trade left the World Champion Astros with plenty of minor league system with plenty of talent to potentially flip for more talent as they search for another title.

There’s high-ceiling outfielders in Kyle Tucker as well as Derek Fisher, not to mention potential frontline arms in Forrest Whitley and J.B. Bukauskas.

First baseman and outfielder Yordan Alvarez is another potential impact-player who could emerge from the minors in the future.

Add in the likes of corner infielder Colin Moran, right-handers Francis Martes and David Paulino as well as left-hander Cionel Perez and there isn’t a shortage of trade chips.

Dealing from the aforementioned group wouldn’t hurt Houston’s short-term prospects, while also setting the team up for another deep October run if they can snag additional elite talent.

Keeping up with the Joneses

As it stands, the Astros are still one of baseball’s elite teams despite only adding relievers Joe Smith, Hector Rondon and Anthony Gose in the offseason.

Still, Houston has certainly seen their competition up the ante so far in the Hot Stove League.

The New York Yankees, who came within a game of beating Houston in the most recent iteration of the American League Championship Series, just added Giancarlo Stanton and will benefit from a full season of Sonny Gray in 2018.

Meanwhile, there’s significant competition in the American League West for the Astros, a division Houston won by 21 games last season.

Anaheim’s offseason moves—signing Shohei Ohtani and Zack Cozart and trading for Ian Kinsler—may not be enough to bridge the gap to the ‘Stros.

However, the trio, along with recently re-signed August trade acquisition Justin Upton, should make things significantly closer out West.

What’s more, with a free agent market that still includes J.D. Martinez, Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas an American league team looking to make an impact of their own could shake things up in a hurry.

Pitching, pitching and more pitching

Speaking of potential additions, the Astros have recently been linked with one in the form of Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole.

Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan tweeted the following in a pair of tweets on Monday morning.

Additionally, MLB.com’s Alyson Footer tweeted the following with a video of Houston owner Jim Crane answering questions.

Michael Fulmer

While the Astros have yet to be linked with Fulmer, the fit is definitely there in terms of a long-term fit in Houston’s rotation.

Per Spotrac, The 24-year-old has five years of controllability left before he reaches free agency. What’s more, those five years include one year of pre-arbitration control.

This is all purely speculative, but the fit is not only there for the Astros, but also for the Tigers.

Outside of the Yankees and perhaps Atlanta, Houston is the best positioned team in terms of young talent and prospects that can make a substantial offer for Fulmer.

The same prospects Passan mentioned in his tweets, Fisher, Tucker and Whitley, would certainly make sense for the Tigers.

That’s also purely speculative, but a player like Tucker or Whitely would represent the elite prospect Detroit would be an excellent starting point for executive vice president of baseball operations Al Avila and company.

At this point, Detroit should only trade Fulmer if a team is willing to pay top dollar, or more.

Building a package around Tucker would certainly make sense.

Position Player Prospects Needed

While the Tigers dealing Michael Fulmer would certainly be a blow to the long-term outlook in the rotation, starting pitching is the one area where the orginization deep in quality prospects.

With Perez, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows all at varying stages of the development process, Detroit has four starters with the potential to pitch near the top of a Major League rotation.

There’s also plenty of other starters with potential in Grayson Long, Kyle Funkhouser, Gregory Soto, Sandy Baez and Tyler Alexander.

While the starting pitching looks promising, as does the future bullpen picture, there isn’t as much depth in terms of position players.

There is plenty of upside with Cameron, Rogers, all-around middle infielder Isaac Paredes, promising outfield slugger Christin Stewart, outfielder Mike Gerber and infielder Dawel Lugo.

All could become anywhere from quality to impact players in the Majors, but as it stands, the Tigers don’t have a position player prospect to spearhead the rebuild like the White Sox have with Yoan Moncada or the Cubs had with Anthony Rizzo.

Adding Tucker could accomplish that.

Close to the Majors

It also wouldn’t hurt that the outfielder is already at Double-A after turning in a 129 wRC+, a .368 wOBA, a .247 ISO and an .837 OPS in 317 plate appearances against competition that was on average four years older than him.

Outside of Stewart, Gerber and Lugo, Detroit’s best position player are scattered across the lower minors.

Of the three, only Gerber has graduated to Triple-A, and he logged just 18 plate appearances with Triple-A Toledo at the tail-end of last season.

Outside of Tucker in this hypothetical swap, the Tigers should also target first baseman and outfielder Yordan Alvarez.

Alvarez just finished the 2017 season at Advanced-A Buies Creek, but he’d give the Tigers a definite long-term successor for Miguel Cabrera at first base.

Throw in a starting prospect like Hector Perez, or perhaps a player like Bukauskas, and you’ve got the making of a win-win trade.

Market/Value

If anything, if a Cole/Astros trade does occur, it would set some sort of bar for Fulmer in terms of a trade return, considering both are frontline-type starters.

In fact, you could probably make the case that Fulmer has more value.

He’s not as established as the Pirates’ ace, but he’s younger, comes with more years of team control and has been more valuable since the 2016 season (when Fulmer entered the league).

Gerrit Cole vs Michael Fulmer

Gerrit Cole

Age: 27
Years of team control remaining, per Spotrac: Two
Career fWAR: 15.9
Lifetime Swinging Strike Percentage: 9.5
Lifetime WHIP: 1.22
Innings pitched since 2016: 319
fWAR since 2016: 5.6

Michael Fulmer

Age: 24
Years of team control remaining, per Spotrac: Five
Career fWAR: 6.6
Lifetime Swinging Strike Percentage: 9.9
Lifetime WHIP: 1.14
Innings pitched since 2016: 323.2
fWAR since 2016: 6.6

If the Pirates end up dealing Cole for a premium return, it would set up the Tigers to potentially receive much more in swap should the team move their resident ace.

Next Column:

The Angels could have conceivably headed for a rebuild. Now with Shohei Ohtaniand reportedly Kevin Maitanthe future is bright in Anaheim.

New Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto’s Major Trade History and Grades

Unlike his predecessor, new Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has previous experience as a top decision-maker (for lack of a better term) in a major league front office.

Dipoto presided over the Arizona Diamondbacks for a short spell as the Snakes went through a transition period. The GM shipped off a number of key players.

Following his stint in the desert, Dipoto took over as the general manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

However, before we get to the spending and all-in moves made by Dipoto in Anaheim, his tenure in Arizona must be properly gone over with a fine-tooth comb—at least in terms of his trades.

Dipoto made a few major trades in Arizona. The most prominent of which occurred on July 25th, 2010 when he dealt Dan Haren to the Angels for Tyler Skaggs, Rafael Rodriguez, Joe Saunders and Patrick Corbin.

Haren was generally pretty outstanding in a Diamondbacks’ jersey. He earned All-Star nods in 2008 and 2009 while finishing fifth in the Cy Young voting in ’09. Over the two seasons he went 30-18 with a sparkling 3.23 ERA and 429 strikeouts in 445.1 innings pitched. His FIP was an even more outstanding 3.12. Haren led the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio in both 2008 and 2009.

The 2010 season was different for Haren. He went 7-8 with a 4.60 ERA in 21 starts. His FIP was a still-respectable 3.88, but it was clear his numbers were nowhere near his usual best. So with the Diamondbacks struggling, Dipoto sent Haren packing to his future employers in Anaheim.

The Haren trade was actually sneaky-good, in retrospect, for the Diamondbacks. Despite the ace posting an impressive 13.2 WAR in two-and-a-half seasons in the desert, he was traded. Haren was essentially dealt for three starting pitcher (Rodriguez threw 2.2 innings for the D-Backs and hasn’t seen the Majors since).

The first pitcher, Skaggs, posted a 5.43 ERA in 13 career starts for the Diamondbacks. The young pitcher was never quite able to put it together in Arizona. Dipoto later acquired Skaggs during his tenure in Anaheim. Skaggs and Adam Eaton to the Angels and White Sox respectively for Mark Trumbo (who strangely enough, was just dealt to Seattle a few months ago).

Saunders was extremely dependable as a member of Arizona’s rotation. He posted a 3.96 ERA in 424.2 innings for the D-Backs, serving as an innings eater. He only won 21 games in three seasons with Arizona, but was worth a 2.1 WAR.

Last-but-not-least, Patrick Corbin is the centerpiece of the deal. The starting pitcher has won 26 games in his three seasons with Arizona. He made the All Star team in 2013 and posted a 14-8 record with a 3.41 ERA and 178 strikeouts in 208.1 innings pitched. He missed 2014, but came back to post a 3.60 ERA in 16 starts this season. The 26-year-old is clearly one to build around for the D-Backs.

Haren never posted the brilliant stats he did in Arizona after leaving the desert. The fact that Dipoto received three major league starters for Haren, including an All Star and frontline starter in Corbin, makes the trade a win for him. Dealing an ace is never easy, but when you acquire three big-league starters, it’s looked at as a win—especially when one of the three has the potential to be a front-line starter for the foreseeable future.

Trade Grade: A

Five days after that Dipoto sent Edwin Jackson to the Chicago White Sox for David Holmberg and Daniel Hudson. Continue reading

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.

Locks

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.

Uncertainties 

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: Ian Kinsler Is Having A Backwards Season… And That’s Just Fine With The Tigers

Ian Kinsler tends to be an extremely good baseball player in the first half of every season. And while he doesn’t fall off the face of the earth in the second half, historically, his numbers drop. Kinsler has 405 career first-half RBI, but only 281 career second-half RBI. He’s a career .284 hitter in the season’s first half, but only a .264 hitter in the second half.

This season has been different—much different.

The second baseman went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in a 9-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, dropping his average to an uncharacteristically low .258. This was a major flip-of-the-script as far as Kinsler was concerned. The former Texas Ranger generally puts up lower (comparatively) numbers in the second half—not the first.

Luckily for the Tigers, Kinsler took off after that. He collected three hits, including a double, while scoring a run, driving in another. He’s hit an absolutely scorching .385 (!) since with five home runs, three triples, 14 doubles and 31 runs scored in 41 games. Over that span he’s struck out a relatively low 19 times. You want another stat? Ok, here’s another one—his OPS since July 2nd is 1.002.

Kinsler hit so well that manager Brad Ausmus moved him down to the third spot in the order in an attempt to re-solidify the offense. The hot streak couldn’t have come at a better time. Miguel Cabrera went down only a few days after Kinsler started raking and only returned recently. Throw in Victor Martinez’ struggles (.240 batting average, .698 OPS since July 1st) and you start to wonder where Detroit would be without their second baseman.

If Monday’s rain delay-induced marathon was any indication, Kinsler isn’t slowing down. The four-time All-Star’s stat line: 5-for-5, three runs scored, two RBI and a home run—all the while seeing a joint-team high 25 pitches.

With Cabrera back in the lineup Kinsler is back in the second spot in the batting order, but that hasn’t slowed him down. In the four games since Cabrera returned, the second baseman is hitting .389 with four runs scored and three RBI.

With Cabrera hitting .333 since his return, not to mention an absurd 1.167 OPS, Detroit will be hoping the Kinsler-Cabrera two-headed monster in the team’s top third of the order will mean more runs and a push towards the playoffs. An offense can only do so much, but when a team has a catalyst displaying the hitting acumen Kinsler has shown as of late, it certainly doesn’t hurt.

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

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Detroit Tigers: Team Must Stop Being Patient with Bullpen

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.

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Detroit Tigers: Predicting the Lineup in 2020

After trading David Price, Joakim Soria and Yoenis Cespedes (in that order no less!), the Detroit Tigers are seem to have an eye on the future. The team will still be ultra-aggressive in winning in the short-term, but the trades of the impending free agents signal that the team is at least conscious of building a long-term winner that is more sustainable. Here’s a look at what that future might entail. Without further ado, ladies and gentleman, you’re 2020 Detroit Tigers (as it stands right now anyways…).

  • C: James McCann

Anyone under the impression that James McCann would take time to acclimate have been dead wrong. The catcher has lived up to his reputation defensively—he leads all catchers in fielding percentage (0 errors) while grading out well in defensive metrics. McCann also has thrown out 45% of would-be base stealers. The 25-year-old is hitting .282 with 22 extra-base-hits and owns a 1.3 WAR as a rookie. The Tigers seem set behind the plate for the next decade.

1B: Miguel Cabrera

By this point, Miguel Cabrera will be one of the game’s greatest all-time players. He isn’t going anywhere, regardless of his salary.

2B: Dixon Machado/ JaCoby Jones

Here’s where it gets interesting. Ian Kinsler will be 38 by this point, and the Tigers have two excellent converted shortstops ready to take the reins. Machado is currently at Triple-A, and is a plus-plus defender while Jones is at Double-A and has tantalizing potential.

Machado has already earned a cup of coffee with the Tigers this season and with a .267 batting average in the high-minors, there’s hope that he’ll offensive potential to go along with his excellent defense.

While further down the minor-league ladder, Jones possess just as much potential as Machado—if not more. The former third-round pick has raw power to go along with elite athleticism and plus-plus capabilities on defense that allow him to play most positions. This will obviously be the case with Jose Iglesias entrenched at shortstop, so expect Jones to be in the Tigers lineup come 2020, if not much, much sooner. The prospect is off to a strong start in Double-A after hitting three home runs in one game soon after arriving from Pittsburgh.  

SS: Jose Iglesias

When a 25-year-old shortstop can do this

And this

Then you’ve clearly found a keeper. Throw in the fact that Iglesias is hitting .318 this year (and in the process earning his first All-Star nod) and you might just see him in a Tigers uniform in 2025, let alone 2020.

3B: Nick Castellanos

Nick Castellanos is finally starting to become the hitter everyone thought he would be.

While his .237 batting average this season is far from encouraging, his recent numbers are. The third baseman is hitting .276 with seven home runs, 24 RBI and an .846 OPS since June 23rd.

Castellanos still has work to do in terms of reaching full potential, but the fact that he has almost surpassed his home run and RBI totals from last season is an extremely good sign moving forward. It seems like he’s been around for ages, but Castellanos is still only 23-years-old. When he reaches his prime, he should be a more-than-competent middle-of-the-order bat.

LF: Anthony Gose/ Christian Stewart/ JaCoby Jones

Again, another tough decision. Gose will only be 29 in 2020, so he’ll likely still be with the team if he performs well. But, by that time he’ll likely have shifted to left in order to accommodate top prospect Derek Hill.

Stewart is one of the team’s better outfield prospects. He may not be on Gose’s level defensively, but it seems that his offense will be his meal ticket in the bigs. Jones’ potential won’t be recounted again, but put it this way—he can be a plus defender in the outfield as well as the infield.

CF: Derek Hill

Hill isn’t going to be a power-hitting player in The Show, but he’s got plenty of speed to help him reach the bigs and stay there. Hill has what scouts would call “plus” speed. The prospect also possesses good plate discipline. He’ll be a dangerous leadoff-type hitter for the Tigers for years to come—not to mention a strong defensive centerfielder.

RF: J.D. Martinez

Maybe the biggest lock here not named Miguel, J.D. Martinez isn’t leaving Detroit any time. Right now its probably a safe bet to assume he’ll be with the team until he retires. The Tigers will need protection for Cabrera once Victor Martinez retires/departs, and they already have that in J.D.

Fun fact: J.D. Martinez has homered in three consecutive games three different times this season.

DH: Steven Moya

If Moya can put it together in Triple-A, this job’s his. Dude can hit the ball a mile.

Bookmark/subscribe/follow/keep on eye on Know Hitter over the next few days—coming soon, predicting the Tigers pitching staff in 2020.

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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5 Stats from the Detroit Tigers 2-1 Loss to the New York Yankees

  • One

The number of hits by Tigers hitters not named J.D. Martinez. Martinez went 2-for-4 with two strikeouts. Anthony Gose had the lone, non-Martinez hit. Gose also scored Detroit’s only run of the game.

  • Four

The number of home losses by the Tigers this season, three of which have come versus the Yankees this week.

  • Nine

The number of runs scored by the Tigers in a 9-1 win over the White Sox on Sunday, April 19th. The Tigers have struggled to score runs lately with their nine run outburst against Chicago being the only time in nearly two weeks that Detroit has managed more than four runs per game. In four games against the Yankees, the Tigers run scoring output was the following– 2, 2, 4 and 1.

  • Zero

The number of runs allowed by reliever Joba Chamberlain. The former Yankee continues to look sharp early in the season with just four hits and zero walks allowed in five appearances.

  • Eight

The number of strikeouts by Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez, who looked more himself after two rough outings against the Pirates and White Sox. Sanchez allowed one hit, one run and four walks over 6.1 innings.

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Detroit Tigers: Statistical Impacts of New Additions

  • Yoenis Cespedes

Acquired via: Trade, with Gabe Speier and Alex Wilson for Rick Porcello

Maybe the biggest name brought in by the Tigers this offseason, Cespedes has come out of the gates swinging for Detroit. Entering Friday he was hitting .308 with four doubles, three RBI and a triple in 40 plate appearances. He hit his first home run against Jeff Samardzija on Friday and while his 9-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio isn’t pretty, he’ll be a constant threat in a middle-of-the-lineup that also features Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez.

  • Shane Greene

Acquired via: Trade, for Robbie Ray and Domingo Leyba

Acquired in a three-team trade with the Yankees and Diamondbacks that also saw the Tigers relinquish prospects Robbie Ray and Domingo Leyba, Greene has been one of, if not the best pitcher for the Tigers (which is saying something considering David Price’s fantastic start to the season).

The 26-year-old has two wins in two starts while allowing a grand total of one run. That run was unearned. The former Yankee has shown great promise, only allowing one walk while lasting eight innings in both starts. His ERA won’t be 0.00 at the end of the season, but it looks like Dave Dombrowski found yet another gem.

  • Anthony Gose

Acquired via: Trade for Deon Travis

Yet another under-the-radar acquisition by Dombrowski, Gose has added a plus defender to the Tigers outfield while showing improved signs with the bat. The former Blue Jay entered the season as a career .234 hitter but has shown flashes of immense promise thanks to a .391 batting average. He’s also contributed two doubles, a triple, a home run, a stolen base and five RBI.

  • Alfredo Simon

Acquired via: Trade for Eugenio Suarez and Johnathon Crawford

Acquired in a trade with Cincinnati for shortstop Eugenio Suarez and relief prospect Johnathon Crawford, Simon has turned in nearly as impressive as a start as his fellow-rotation mate Greene. The former reliever has a sparkling 2.03 ERA over two starts (both wins). He’s struck out five and walked zero batters. There were questions about Simon coming into the season and whether he could replicate the form that made him an All-Star last season, but so far Simon is thriving.

  • Tom Gorzelanny

Acquired via: Free Agency

Signed as a free agent to fill a need in the bullpen, Gorzelanny has been solid in his two appearances, allowing only two hits in 2.2 innings pitched. He has a strikeout and has yet to walk a batter. He’ll get more work as the season progresses, so expect to see more of the former Pirates starter. He posted a 0.86 ERA in 23 appearances for Milwaukee last season.

(RELATED: Should the Tigers Sign Rafael Soriano?)

Continue to check back this season for updates on the newest Tigers and how they’re faring in their first season in Detroit.

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

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5 Stats from the Detroit Tigers 1-0 Win over the Pittsburgh Pirates

  • 10

The number of strikeouts by Tigers hitters. A 10/2 strikeout-to-walk ratio is never a good thing, but Detroit was able to pull out another win regardless.

  • Two

The number of hits surrendered by the Tigers pitchers. Detroit pitchers didn’t allow a walk either. Nick Castellanos also had two hits in three plate appearances, helping him break out of a mini slump that saw him put up a 3-for-17 line over his last four contests.

  • Four

This game marked the fourth save for closer Joakim Soria, who pitched a perfect ninth. This was Soria’s third straight perfect inning. The closer has faced 17 batters and only allowed two baserunners, both came in a 9-6 win over Cleveland. He’s only allowed one run on the season as well—that run also came in the 9-6 win over Cleveland.

  • 03

Starting pitcher Alfredo Simon’s ERA after the game. After allowing three runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings against the Indians in his first start, Simon rebounded with a spectacular effort. The former Cincinnati Red held the Pirates scoreless through eight innings while only surrendering two hits. He struck out two.

  • One

The number of runs needed to win the game. This came on a solo home run by Rajai Davis in the sixth inning. It was Davis’ first home run of the year and only his second RBI.

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