The Tigers will formally announce the signing of Brandon Lyon on Saturday. Terms are not immediately available but it is likely a one or two year contract. Lyon isn’t necessarily being handed the closers position, but he will definitely have a shot to claim it.
UPDATE 2:49 The deal is one year and $4.25 million with another half million in incentives. Eddie Bonine was DFA’d to make room on the 40 man roster
Lyon served as the Diamondbacks closer for the first half of 2008 before losing the job. The ERA and WHIP weren’t impressive last year, but there are a couple of quirks at play. First was a very high .355 BABIP. The second, and likely the reason for the first, is he was tremendously unlucky on ground balls. Last year 13.4% of the ground balls he allowed resulted in infield hits. To provide some context, Ichiro Suzuki has a career 12.2% mark. Suffice it to say that it was abnormally high and likely to correct itself.
The high BABIP resulted in an ERA a nearly a run higher than his FIP.
Detroit Tiger Tales also points out his clean outing rate. Even in 2008, it was higher than every current Tiger reliever other than Clay Rapada and it compares favorably to Trevor Hoffman, Takashi Saito, and Juan Cruz.
I don’t know that Brandon Lyon is the savior at closer, but the signing demonstrably improves the bullpen provided his second half struggles in 2008 were not the result of some sort of injury that could carry over to 2009.