Over the past week or so, there has been a considerable amount of buzz about how the Detroit Tigers could entertain the thought of trading for San Diego Padres closer Huston Street to fix the problems that exist at the back end of their bullpen. New rumors have now begun to swirl that the Padres might also be shopping setup man Joaquin Benoit, who might actually be a better fit for the Tigers.
Benoit pitched for the Tigers from 2011-13, posting a 13-7 record and a 2.89 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP over that time period. Last year, after it was determined that Bruce Rondon was not ready to be a closer and welcoming back Jose Valverde later proved to be futile, Benoit took over the closer’s role and did an excellent job. He ended the season going 24-for-26 in save opportunities with a 4-1 record and a 2.01 ERA.
Benoit did not, however, pitch as well in the postseason, posting a 5.40 ERA in the ALDS against the Oakland Athletics and a 7.71 ERA in the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox. He also gave up the big grand slam to David Ortiz in Game 2 of the latter series. This offseason, the Tigers allowed Benoit to walk, which was a decision that made sense at the time.
Right now, though, the Tigers could use Benoit more than ever. So far, he has gone 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP for the Padres, and the Tigers are desperate for a reliever who can post numbers such as those. Street is certainly having a great season as well, currently sporting an 0.96 ERA with 20 saves, but Benoit is more familiar with the Tigers and the American League. Street, as a matter of fact, has not even pitched in the AL since he was last with the Athletics in 2008. One does not have to be a math whiz to figure out that was more than half a decade ago.
It would obviously be up to manager Brad Ausmus to decide how to use Benoit if the Tigers are to acquire him, but he would be a solid option for either a setup man or a closer. Over the past month, the Tigers’ current closer, Joe Nathan, has showed that he can still get the job done at times, but just not every day. If used correctly and more sparingly, Nathan can still be effective.
Using a combination of Nathan, Benoit and Joba Chamberlain in the late innings could be a recipe for success. A reunion with Benoit could indeed make perfect sense for the Tigers.