Tiger bullpen improvement eases trade needs

The Tigers are sitting in a good position with the trade deadline looming at the end of the month. Only a month ago I would have been eager to see Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski make a bold move to plug a major leak in the bullpen but that has changed pretty dramatically. I no longer see this as being necessary and this is very good because to trade for a pitcher the caliber needed would have meant the Tigers trading a big name from the farm system. While Dombrowski wouldn’t have traded a prospect as large as Cameron Maybin, some of the second tier pitching talent could have been moved.

While Detroit is certainly still looking to make a trade for bullpen players, a few of which are mentioned by Kurt @ Mack Ave Tigers, the stakes are not quite as high. There are a few reasons for this:

1) The Tiger bullpen has been solid over the last month and a half. After an extremely rocky start, each bullpen pitcher has had a successful July and most of June.

  • Todd Jones has given up a total of 2 earned runs since June 26th. These came in Saturday evenings game against the Royals which they ultimately won.
  • Bobby Seay has not given up a run since May 26th in which time he has pitched 10 2/3 innings.
  • Jason Grilli who seemed as though he couldn’t step on the mound without giving up runs held a 3.86 ERA through June and has a 3.00 ERA through July so far.
  • Macay McBride has stepped up where Wil Ledezma was not and been pretty effective against lefties (.179/.289/.256)
  • Jose Capellan has been done well filling up innings and has a 3.24 ERA in July.
  • Zach Miner & Chad Durbin have been close to unstoppable in long relief with Miner having an ERA below 3.00 and Durbin not loosing his stride since being moved from the rotation.

2) Fernando Rodney is due to return to action. When Joel Zumaya was lost all eyes turned to Fernando Rodney to step up to the plate and gather some holds in late inning relief. He promply gave up a number of runs and then moved to the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis.

Fernando Rodney is a good bullpen pitcher and should have been the one to lead the bullpen to success. In starter terms, if Joel Zumaya is our #1 then Rodney is the #2. His return, if successful, could be a major boost to the bullpen that has already turned much around. This return could be as soon as the next couple of weeks:

There’s no telling at this point how long the assignment would last, but it probably wouldn’t be for fewer than two appearances. If the Tigers decide to bring Rodney back at that point, he could join them in Oakland — their last stop on the upcoming three-city trip.

If Rodney needs another appearance, he’d not rejoin the team until it returns from Oakland on Aug. 3.

3) Joel Zumaya will likely return in August. Nobody really knows when Zumaya will return to the bullpen and the Tigers head office is being very close mouthed about the time line for return. Joel, on the other hand, has said everything from ‘I won’t return this year’ to ‘I’m ready to return now’. So figuring out when he’ll be back is similar to reading tea leaves, however things are looking up.

He has been rehabbing his finger and playing catch with Rodney and has been doing better than expected by some.

With Rodney and Zumaya looking to make a return in the next month and the current bullpen pulling it together I think Dave Dombrowski said it best:

“Our biggest need is to solidify that eighth-inning guy,” Dombrowski said. “We have two guys on the disabled list now who are better than anybody that would be available.”

There is no longer any reason to mortgage the future as any help on the market won’t provide major gains beyond the team already has.

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6 Responses to Tiger bullpen improvement eases trade needs

  1. Kurt says:

    I really think that Dombrowski has to skip by the big names with highest prices, but find the best 7th inning guy he can get his hands on. The closer role isn’t changing. The setup men are hopeflly going to be healthy. But I’d like one last power arm for the 7th inning to go with the LOOGys, and I’m not convinced the Tigers have it right now.

  2. Eric Jackson says:

    I think Miner and Durbin will be able to hold off the majority of the innings but are far from a healthy Rodney/Zumaya one-two punch :)

    Grilli just astounds me on how he can come out and be very effective for a few games then come out and walk multiple guys and hit a batter. He did that tonight and it wasn’t the first time it has happened this year.

    They still have other options in Toledo such as de la Cruz who has been lights out since moving back down.

  3. Ian C. says:

    The bullpen has been very good lately, and the Tigers are winning games with Durbin and Miner pitching in set-up roles. But I’d still like to see Detroit get someone who can come in and get a strikeout when it’s absolutely needed, even if it’s just to insure themselves against Rodney and/or Zumaya not coming back.

    Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I think some of the teams that are currently asking for a lot will eventually lower those demands just so they won’t lose a guy for nothing (i.e., Dotel, Gagne).

  4. Joan Alliman says:

    I really think the tigers should take a serious look at Kansas City pitcher
    Zack Greinke. Whenever he came in to pitch against the Tigers, they had trouble hitting him. He has a great future ahead of him because several people have said he has a great arm. Does anyone agree? Maybe with Jim Leyland as his manager, he can give him much encouragement and confidence.I really like him and he’s young.

  5. Joan Alliman says:

    I like Zack Grienke of the Kansas City Royals and I think the
    management should take a close look at him. He is young and has a strong
    arm. Does anyone out there agree?

  6. Eric Jackson says:

    I agree he’s good but he is far from a sure thing in the bullpen for this year. His ERA is 4.33 for KC and they are probably not looking to get rid of him anyway.

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