Detroit Tigers' Drew VerHagen Could Become Valuable Trade Chip

By Brad Faber
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

This afternoon, Detroit Tigers pitching prospect Drew VerHagen made his major league debut in Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians. The 6-foot-6, 230 pound right-hander went five innings, allowing five hits, three earned runs, three walks and recording four strikeouts.

VerHagen allowed all three runs in the fifth inning. Prior to that, however, he had been looking quite sharp. The Tigers would eventually go on to lose the contest by a score of 6-2.

VerHagen, who is just 23 years old, had been having a decent season in Triple-A Toledo, pitching to the tune of a 6-7 record with a 3.67 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP in 19 starts. He also had a good year in 2013, going a combined 7-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP while splitting time between Class-A Advanced Lakeland and Double-A Erie.

Based on his rather impressive minor league resume, in addition to his solid MLB debut today, it looks as if he has a chance to be a fine big league pitcher someday — whether in Detroit or elsewhere.

Recently, reports have suggested that the Tigers might be showcasing VerHagen, possibly in order to include him in a package that would bring Joaquin Benoit of the San Diego Padres back to Detroit. If that is the case, the Padres should have been encouraged by what they saw out of VerHagen today, particularly in the first four innings.

If the Tigers do trade VerHagen for Benoit, it would likely work out well for everyone involved. The Tigers clearly need help in the bullpen if they wish to reach their ultimate goal of winning their first World Series in 30 years, and Benoit would be the perfect fit.

Benoit pitched for the Tigers from 2011-13, posting a 13-7 record with a 2.89 ERA over that time period. Benoit would not only be joining a team that appears to be headed towards the postseason for the fourth consecutive season, but also a team that he is familiar with and has already had a great deal of success with.

The Padres would obviously be getting a promising young arm in VerHagen, and PETCO Park in San Diego would be a great place for anyone to pitch. PETCO Park is generally considered to be one of the best pitcher’s parks in all of baseball, and one does not really need to be overpowering to find success there. VerHagen is not known as a big strikeout pitcher, recording a K/9 of just 5.1 in Toledo this season, so PETCO might be perfect for him.

At any rate, regardless of whether the Tigers trade VerHagen or keep him, today was evidence that he could have a very bright future ahead of him. This afternoon could have gone better for him, but it could have gone a whole lot worse as well.

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

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