Are Tigers already looking for more bullpen help?
Could the rumor mill on potential Tigers relief help be cranking up again already? Wasn’t the Jose Valverde signing supposed to stop this for a couple months?
Well, yes. Problem is, the Tigers’ relief issues have to do with a lot more than Valverde.
On Thursday, CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler cited a source in contact with Tigers management saying Detroit is “looking hard” for relief help on the trade market.
It’s not an isolated observation. Another AL evaluator said Thursday that Tigers have scouts looking for potential bullpen options. It’s not necessarily a closer at this point, but depth, that the Tigers are believed to be seeking.
A look at the current Tigers bullpen shows the team trying to plug holes in middle relief behind Valverde and setup man Joaquin Benoit. Octavio Dotel’s injury has left a gaping hole behind Benoit in right-handed middle relief, which took Al Alburquerque out of his strikeout specialist’s role and into one- or two-inning relief.
Now, Alburquerque is headed to Triple-A Toledo to work on his command. Brayan Villarreal and Bruce Rondon are already down there. All three were expected to pitch significant roles in Detroit’s bullpen going into the season. In their place are Jose Ortega, who is about to get some pretty serious middle relief work, and Evan Reed, a waiver claim after the season began.
If the Tigers can get one or two guys ready in Toledo sometime soon, they can weather their bullpen woes for a little bit while their starters are pitching deep into games. At some point, though, they have to get things settled, something they haven’t been able to do all season for one reason or another.
The problem is that it’s rare to see any significant trade in May or even June. Very few teams identify themselves as sellers this early, and those that do usually are in that spot in part because their starters are struggled to do the job and their bullpen has had to pick up innings.