The Detroit Tigers bullpen has struggled mightily this season, with only Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit as exceptions to the point. While Smyly has a 2.25 ERA in 48 innings of work, and Benoit 1.89 ERA in 33 1/3 innings, the Tigers bullpen has pieces like Phil Coke 6.56 ERA in 23 1/3 innings and Darin Down 4.80 ERA in 30 innings. Don’t forget Jose Valverde with his 5.59 ERA and the Tigers closer, that rarely closed successfully.
Today, Bruce Rondon was called up and the Tigers thought he could stop the bleeding. No can do, he came into the game in a tie game in bottom of the 10th against Tampa today, and lost the game on a Yunel Escobar game winning hit.
Jim Leyland is trying, but it is getting to the point that the Tigers just don’t have many, if any, options left. Leyland and the Tigers got Valverde for the closer’s role, and he struggled. Rondon was thought to get a go at the closers role, but it is doubtful that the Tigers give Rondon a chance after giving away today’s game.
Joaquin Benoit has been in the closer role, and been doing a nice job, so the Tigers have found someone for the spot, but Benoit can break down at any point. He doesn’t have the stuff of a closer, just a good fastball and a change up, really.
Drew Smyly is currently pitching in all kinds of spots, wherever he is needed. He has been a long man, he went 6 1/3 in Anaheim earlier this year. He has went in times like today, when he pitched the 9th and struck out the side. He has went the final 3 innings of blowout wins and gotten a couple 3 inning saves. He has 9 holds from pitching an inning or 2 in the 6th and 7th when Tigers starters struggled, and he has pitched in blowout losses, he gave up 3 earned runs against the Angels in 1 1/3 innings on Tuesday. The Tigers are trying to cut down on his multiple inning appearances, so he can pitch more often.
The unsolved at the beginning of the season remains unsolved. What can Leyland do to make their bullpen reasonable?
Here is what I think:
Closer: Joaquin Benoit – (He has pitched well here, leave him be.)
Setup Man [8th]: Drew Smyly – (Need to keep your consistent guys at the end of the game, a plus is that Smyly can go multiple innings.)
Setup Man [7th]: Bruce Rondon – (The Tigers should trade for someone in this spot, but give Rondon some time, see if he can figure it out.)
Lefty Specialist: Phil Coke – (.226 Average against Lefties this season, as said on MLB Network, pitch him where he can succeed, he is consistent against lefties, so let him pitch against lefties)
Long Man: Rick Porcello – (Yes, he is currently in the rotation, but Anibal Sanchez is coming back soon, and you can’t keep a guy with an ERA of 5 in 80 innings in the rotation.)
Tigers Starting Rotation:
You can change it up at the all star break. Scherzer will be in the all star game, but he’ll go 2 innings max, so he can probably start the Friday coming back. If not, flip him and Verlander.
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