There isn’t a whole lot to say about the Detroit Tigers‘ bullpen the past few seasons. The Tigers have tried to experiment with several players to be that go-to guy in games, but reliable relievers have been few and far between. For instance, Jose Valverde was unstoppable in 2011, going a perfect 49-for-49 in save opportunities. However, these numbers mask the fact that anytime he came into the game Detroit fans would cringe as he would let guys on base and give up extra base hits. His bend-don’t-break method didn’t last long, and he quickly found his way out of town the following season.
After finally parting with Valverde, the Tigers had gone to Joaquin Benoit to be the closer which was a work in progress. Less stressful than with Valverde in the game, Benoit consistently loaded up the bases and would have to pitch himself out of seemingly impossible situations. The same story played out for Phil Coke and Bruce Rondon, particularly in the playoffs.
While these guys all throw hard, it would be nice to finally have some consistency in the bullpen and not worry about blowing a two-run lead in the ninth. The Tigers have gone out and signed three experienced relievers all of whom should pay dividends for the club this season.
Joe Nathan – The Tigers went out and signed Nathan as a free agent this season for two years and $20 million. While he is 39-years-old, I think he has plenty left in the tank. Last season he had 43 saves and an ERA of just 1.39. He’s also played in the AL for his entire career, so the familiarity with opposing hitters could bode well him and the rest of the bullpen.
Joba Chamberlain – Another free agency pickup for the Tigers, but this time it comes at a much cheaper rate of a one-year contract for $2.5 million. The reward far outweighs the risk in my opinion. Joba has talked about leaving New York recently and said that he felt he wore out his welcome. With the spotlight and crazy NY media, who could blame him? The guy is only 28-years-old and by far my favorite acquisition the Tigers have had in a while.
Ian Krol – The Tigers are taking a big yet manageable risk on Krol, and I like it. At just 22-years-old, Krol struck out 22 batters in 27 innings of work. There’s nothing to blow your socks off, and neither is his 3.95 ERA. Throw those numbers aside because what the team is looking for here is a situational guy which Krol gives the Tigers. Lefties hit just .250 off Krol last season, and he only gave up one home run to left-handed batters. Krol is certainly capable of being that shutdown guy to get out of a jam, a role that’s his for the taking.