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.

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 News: Miguel Cabrera, Rajai Davis, Shane Greene and the Trade Deadline

Here’s the latest Detroit Tigers news from the Twitter as the team gets ready to start a road series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

In major news, Miguel Cabrera is apparently already taking batting practice and could return in a few weeks.

In other news, Rajai Davis isn’t going anywhere.

David Price and the Tigers are confident in their chances.

Also, Buck Farmer is replacing Shane Greene in the rotation. Greene will move to the bullpen.

There are also a number of scouts at the Tigers/Rays game.

To see the Tigers’ lineup for the series opener against the Rays, click here. 

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Why The Tigers Should Sign Edwin Jackson

In an attempt to give their bullpen a different look, the Chicago Cubs have designated pitcher Edwin Jackson for assignment to make way for fellow reliever Rafael Soriano.

Jackson, who is a former Tiger, is on the open market after posting a 3.19 ERA (his FIP is an even more impressive 2.84) in 23 appearances. Over those 23 appearances, he’s tallied 31 innings and struck out 23 batters.

The Tigers should actively pursue a reunion.

Jackson, who pitched in his only All-Star Game as a member of the Tigers in 2009, was highly successful as a member of Detroit’s rotation, posting 13 wins.

Given Jackson’s track record as a reliever this season, and the Tigers struggles in both the rotation and the bullpen, he would make a lot of sense back in a Tigers uniform.

Whatever role Jackson takes up in Detroit—should he sign—he’d fill a need. He could slot in as part of the bullpen, suddenly giving the Tigers a shiny-new pair of dependable relievers in himself and Neftali Feliz.

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

Or, if Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon’s struggles prove too much, Jackson could slot into the rotation. That, in addition to the eventual return of Kyle Lobstein, would give Detroit a full rotation without Greene or Simon. This would allow Simon to move to the bullpen, a place where he found considerable success. Simon worked to a 2.78 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 148.2 innings pitched out of the ‘pen for Cincinnati from 2012 to 2013.

Either way, the Tigers bullpen would benefit from a move while the rotation could also stand to benefit as well.

Jackson has been here before as well, in terms of being a midseason boost to a new team. As a starting pitcher, he provided both Chicago and St. Louis with a shot in the arm in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

During his first half-season in Chicago, Jackson went 4-2 with a 3.24 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 75 innings. The next year, after moving to St. Louis at the deadline, Jackson went 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA in helping the Cardinals claim the World Series title.

In addition, Jackson would also be cheap. Provided the Tigers don’t claim him on waivers, he’ll only cost the veteran’s minimum.

Regardless of what role he would fill, Edwin Jackson would be a shot in the arm to a Tigers’ pitching staff desperately in need of one.

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

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.

Cost:

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.

Verdict:

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 12-3 Loss to the #Chicago #Cubs

  • Five

The number of runs allowed by Tigers starter Shane Greene in only three innings pitched. Greene was also tagged for seven hits, a walk and a home run. He struck out three, but that didn’t help him much in the start. Greene was sent to Triple-A after a prolonged stretch of struggling.

  • Seven

The number of runs allowed by the Detroit bullpen. An unusually bad day for the relievers, Blaine Hardy was the only relief pitcher to escape without allowing a runner to cross home plate. Kyle Ryan was solid, allowing only one run (unearned) in three innings, but the rest of the team failed to deliver. Angel Nesbitt allowed three runs while only recording one out, which was slightly better than Tom Gorzelanny, who gave up two without getting a single out. Al Alburquerque also let a run in.

  • 11

The Tigers were able to put 11 runners on base, but failed to do much thanks to 11 punch outs. Yoenis Cespedes was the only Detroit starter without a strikeout.

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3 Stats from the #Detroit #Tigers 7-5 Loss to the #Oakland #Athletics

  • Eight

The number of hits allowed by Tigers starter Shane Greene. The former Yankee also allowed six runs (four of which were earned) and two hits in 4.1 innings. He struck out two on 81 pitches (48 of which were strikes).

  • Three

The number of runs driven in by Tigers right fielder Tyler Collins. Collins hit a three-run home run in the ninth to pull the Tigers within two, but that was as close as the team got on the day.

  • One

The number of runs allowed by the Tigers bullpen. Pretty good considering the starter only lasted 4.1 innings. Tom Gorzelanny allowed the only run, while Blaine Hardy, Al Alburquerque and Joba Chamberlain all had scoreless appearances.

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Four Stats from the #Detroit #Tigers 8-6 Loss to the Los Angeles #Angels of #Anaheim

  • Seven

The number of runs allowed by Tigers starter Shane Greene in 1.2 innings pitched. Greene also gave up six hits, walked one and struck out one.

  • Five

In addition to the seven runs on six hits in 1.2 innings (and a walk and a strikeout), Greene gave up a whopping five home runs against the Angels.

  • Four

The number of Tigers with multi-hit games. The middle of the Tigers’ order, Miguel Cabrera (two hits), Yoenis Cespedes (two) and J.D. Martinez (three), accounted for seven hits while Jose Iglesias also added two hits.

  • One

The number of runs allowed by the bullpen after Greene exited. Considering the former Yankee only threw 1.2 innings, the bullpen could have imploded, but the trio of Alex Wilson, Blaine Hardy and Al Alburquerque allowed a combined three hits, one run, two walks and five strikeouts.

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Five Stats from the Detroit Tigers 4-0 Loss to the Oakland Athletics

  • Four

The number of hits by the Tigers. This simply isn’t going to cut it against most big league opposition. Detroit also drew a singular walk to add to its baserunner total.

  • Zero

The number of hits by shortstop Dixon Machado in his Major League debut. He saw a total of eight pitches and grounded into a double play.

  • One

The number of Tigers with more than one hit. Tyler Collins accounted for half of the Tigers hits with a 2-for-4 showing at the plate. He’s now hitting .267 on the season. On a day when Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez were out of the lineup, Detroit couldn’t get the rest of the team to generate any offense.

  • 2

The number of innings pitched by Tigers starter Shane Greene. The former Yankee allowed eight hits and four runs while striking out four.

  • Two

The number of strikeouts by Alex Wilson in only an innings of work. Wilson and Blaine Hardy combined to throw 2.1 innings of shutout ball once Greene departed.

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