Will Nate Robertson Pitch His Way Into The Detroit Tigers' Bullpen In 2014?

By Brad Faber
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Last season the Detroit Tigers decided to have a reunion with right-handed pitcher Jeremy Bonderman, who was one of the heroes of their 2006 American League championship club. This season the Tigers signed another member of the 2006 staff, Nate Robertson, to a minor league deal. Thus far, the left-handed Robertson has looked pretty decent for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens.

Robertson, now a 36-year-old relief pitcher, has appeared in 10 games for the Mud Hens and currently has a sparkling ERA of 2.13 in 12.2 innings pitched. He has recorded six strikeouts and his opponents are batting a mere .227 against him. He has, however, walked seven batters and given up 10 hits.

Robertson had the best season of his career back in 2006 when he went 13-13 in 32 starts and posted a very respectable ERA of 3.84 over a total of 208.2 innings of work. After that he was simply never able to return to his 2006 numbers, and his ERA even ballooned to as high as 6.35 during the Tigers’ ill-fated 2008 season.

Robertson last pitched for the Tigers back in 2009, and he has not been seen in the major leagues since 2010 when he split time with the Florida Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies, posting a combined ERA of 5.95 over 21 games. Robertson has attempted comebacks with a number of organizations since then, but he has never been able to find his way back to a MLB mound. It would be very fitting if he could do so in Detroit, as it is the place where he has had his greatest success.

As it turns out, the Tigers could really use another dependable left-handed arm in the bullpen at the moment. Ian Krol has been a pretty good left-handed option for the Tigers with the exception of giving up a game-changing grand slam on Wednesday night, but fans are really beginning to lose patience with Phil Coke and his 13.50 ERA.

If Robertson puts together a few more solid outings and Coke continues to struggle, who knows what could happen. It would certainly be a great story if Robertson could come back and be a solid contributor for the 2014 Tigers.

Brad Faber is a Detroit Tigers writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Brad_Faber, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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