Wednesday, May 29, 2024
AL CentralAmerican LeagueAnalysisDetroit TigersMLB

Tigers ‘Pen: Brace Yourself

It’s no secret around Major League Baseball that the Detroit Tigers stink.  In best terms, Detroit’s front office has many holes to fill in order to reenter competitiveness for a playoff spot.  

So far this offseason, one could argue that the Tigers deserve some commendation for making incremental improvements.  

By adding second baseman Jonathan Schoop and first baseman C.J. Cron, the Tigers have vastly improved their offense.  

How much?  

Well, both Schoop and Cron made over 400 Plate Appearences last season.  According to Baseball Reference, Schoop had a value of 1.6 Wins Above Replacement.  Cron had 1.4 Wins Above Replacement.  In 2019, every Detroit Tiger who made 400+ Plate Appearances COMBINED for a 1.0 Wins Above Replacement value.  Indeed, the Tigers addressed a gaping need in their offensive lineup.  

Detroit also added starting pitcher Iván Nova.  Entering his age-33 season, Nova is a relatively unspectacular signing.  But he’s proven a serviceable and durable pitcher.  Nova is one of only 23 pitchers to have 675.0 or more Innings Pitched since 2016 – and he’s made 52 Quality Starts in that timeframe.  Pair Iván Nova with Matthew Boyd, Spencer Turnbull, Daniel Norris, and some combination of Detroit’s pitching prospects later in the season, and … well … it’s okay to be cautiously optimistic about the future of the Tigers rotation.  

That brings us to Detroit’s bullpen.  There is no cause for optimism amongst Detroit’s relievers.  Again referencing Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Replacement, the Tigers fourth-most valuable player in 2019 was their closer, Shane Greene.  However, the Tigers don’t have Greene anymore after trading him to Atlanta at the end of July last season.  

Even WITH Shane Greene last season, Detroit’s bullpen performed poorly.  Tigers relievers owned the following rankings in MLB in 2019: 

  • Third-worst Earned Run Average (5.26) 
  • Fourth-worst WHIP (1.46) 
  • Sixth-worst Save Percentage (55%) 

So what?  Basically everything Detroit did in 2019 was bad.  Why single out the bullpen?  Because the Tigers front office has done nothing to address it this offseason.  Detroit fans need glimmers of hope for the future, and those glimmers will fade fast if the Tigers continually blow leads or close margins late in games.  It is only January – meaning that time remains for Detroit to acquire some bullpen assistance.  If nothing comes, though, brace yourself for some wild bullpen appearances from the Tigers in 2020.