One area where the Tigers have been rumored to be shoppers is the bullpen. It’s a situation that has been exacerbated by Todd Jones’s failures, Freddy Dolsi’s shoulder fatigue, and Joel Zumaya’s tricep issues and general control problems. But why don’t the Tigers look inside the organization? After all this is a team that used its first 4 picks in the 2008 draft on college relievers. Shouldn’t they be able to take advantage to bolster the pen?
While first round pick Ryan Perry just started pitching in games last week, other members of the 2008 class have been pitching for several weeks with considerable success.
Rob Weinhardt, the 10th round pick, has put up the most sparkling numbers and he’s done it at Lakeland. Going into today he had allowed 2 hits, a walk, while fanning 21 in 15.1 innings. He’s joined in Lakeland by 2nd round pick Cody Satterwhite who has pitched 4 scoreless innings with 6 K’s while allowing 5 baserunners.
Farther down at West Michigan 3rd rounder Scott Green has a 1.00 WHIP in his 9 innings with 7 K’s, 1 walk and 8 hits allowed. Fourth round pick Brett Jacobson sports a 3.07 ERA in 14.2 innings with 13 strike outs against 3 walks.
If you want someone with more experience, Casey Fien caught Leyland’s eye this spring and has a 2.96 ERA in 45.2 innings at Erie (he was just promoted to Toledo) with 42 K’s and 12 walks. His only blemish is that he’s a fly ball pitcher with 5 homers in 45.2 innings.
Or there is Chris Lambert who has been starting with some success for Toledo. He has a 3.42 ERA and a 97:41 K:BB ratio in 118.1 innings. I don’t know if he can start, but the Tigers will likely be adding him to the 40 man roster this offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 draft regardless so why not see if he can help now?
Now the trouble with all the previously mentioned guys is that they are right handed. But Clay Rapada is still toiling in the organization and has a 2.70 ERA for Toledo and has fanned 28 in 20 innings.
I’m sure that Dombrowski and company are aware of what is in the system. But in my mind if you make such a concerted effort to draft college relievers, a big part of the value is that those arms should be close to big league ready and their value is enhanced by being able to contribute quickly. If none can contribute then I question the selections. I don’t question the scouting, because quite frankly I’ve never seen these guys pitch and I’m far from qualified to do the assessment anyways. But it doesn’t mean I can’t question the philosophy. Combine that with a lefty specialist who seems capable of the role and I can’t figure out why the Tigers would give up anything of value for what would likely be a nondescript bullpen arm.