Changes Necessary in Detroit Tigers' Bullpen

By Spencer Impellizzeri
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

When will the Detroit Tigers say enough is enough?

The Tigers have been plagued by an unreliable bullpen that has statistically been one of the worst in MLB, but the team keeps trotting out the same relievers, expecting different results.

This was the case in the Tigers’ game with the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The Tigers were in a close game, trailing 3-2 in the eighth after Rick Porcello tossed seven solid innings, but the bullpen blew any chance of a comeback by allowing three runs to cross in the eighth, followed by two more in the ninth. Evan Reed and Phil Coke both pitched in the eighth inning and both continued to struggle. Reed was charged with all three runs and has now allowed at least one run in four of his last five outings, while Coke continued to allow other pitcher’s runners to score, as he let one of Reed’s runs in.

Corey Knebel was supposed to be a potential fix to the bullpen when he was called up in late May, but he has done no better. He pitched the ninth, allowing both runs, which raised his ERA to 9.64 on the season. Knebel flew through the minors, reaching the big leagues in less than a year, but he looks like he could use some more work at Triple-A.

Not to be left out is the Tigers’ struggling closer, Joe Nathan. He was an All-Star last season, but he has been far from that form this year. He has walked a bullpen-high 11 batters while blowing four saves with an ERA of 6.86.

Some changes are necessary if the Tigers are going to continue to be contenders. The Tigers did sign Joel Hanrahan and he is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in the minors, but Detroit will need more than him to shore up all the problems.

The Tigers have been rumored to be shopping for a shortstop, but they should shift their focus to adding a bullpen arm. Eugenio Suarez was called up from Triple-A and he will be given a shot to shore up the shortstop position, but there doesn’t look to be any bullpen help on the way. Teams will have some reliable relievers on the trade block as the trade deadline approaches and the Tigers would be wise to do whatever possible to bring in one of those arms.

Spencer Impellizzeri is a writer covering the Detroit Tigers for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @Spence_I.

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