On Tuesday, it became clear that the Detroit Tigers‘ bullpen still has issues that need to be resolved if the Tigers hope to win their first World Series in 30 years. Although they just gave up two of their most prized prospects to bring Joakim Soria to Detroit, the Tigers might be wise to start thinking about piecing together another package to send to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Joaquin Benoit.
Although one should not necessarily overreact to Soria’s rough outing against the Chicago White Sox last night, the fact remains that Tigers relievers now have the third-worst ERA (4.48) in MLB, and they are tied for the worst WHIP in baseball (1.46). Benoit, who is currently pitching to the tune of a 1.88 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP for the Padres, would still be a great addition to the Tigers’ struggling bullpen.
Some have credited Benoit’s success this season to pitching in the NL and pitching his home games in one of the best pitcher’s parks in baseball in Petco Park. However, that doesn’t change the fact that he has had success in the AL in recent memory as well. Four years ago, Benoit posted a 1.34 ERA through 60.1 innings for the Tampa Bay Rays, and then went on to have three very solid seasons for the Tigers from 2011-13.
Yes, some Tigers fans also still have a sour taste about the grand slam that Benoit allowed to David Ortiz in Game 2 of the 2013 ALCS, but that should not erase the fact that he still did a fine job in the Tigers’ bullpen last season, pitching to the tune of a 2.01 ERA and converting 24 saves in 26 opportunities.
For several weeks, Benoit’s name had been appearing right alongside Soria’s in rumors involving the Tigers’ potential bullpen targets. However, when Soria was acquired, it was reported than he was always the team’s primary target, leading some to believe that the Tigers’ rumored interest in Benoit was overblown. There is still time for the Tigers to change their mind before the non-waiver trading deadline, however.
If the Tigers were to acquire Benoit, he would give them a very versatile reliever who would fit in perfectly. Don’t look now, but Joe Nathan, the Tigers’ closer who has endured more than his fair share of struggles this season, has been showing signs of life. In his last four outings, he has not been scored upon and has recorded seven strikeouts.
If Nathan can continue to build off of his recent success and Soria’s rough outing proves to be an aberration, and if the Tigers do in fact decide to swing a trade for Benoit, a bullpen that has struggled throughout the entire season could all of a sudden be very good. Furthermore, Nathan, Soria, Benoit and Joba Chamberlain would give Detroit four viable options to use in the closer’s role.
The Tigers should most certainly not rule out the possibility of having a reunion with Benoit.