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The Tigers Bullpen Has Had A Brutal Start For The 2014 Campaign

Even with his early season woes, Joe Nathan is still one of the best closers the game of baseball has ever seen. The 39 year old came off one of his best seasons, registering a WHIP of .90 and an ERA of 1.33 amidst his 43 Saves and 74 SO.  Nathan will also bring plenty of playoff experience to Detroit. Lets just hope if the Tigers make it back to the playoffs, that he can improve in his career postseason ERA of 9.00 in 9 IP.  Nathan was inked to a 2 YR Deal this winter, worth $20 MIL, with a Team Option of $10 MIL for 2016.  This doesn't end all of the teams Relief woes, but it gives them the best Closer that was on the Free Agent Market.

Even with his early season woes, Joe Nathan is still one of the best closers the game of baseball has ever seen. The 39 year old came off one of his best seasons in 2013, registering a WHIP of .90 and an ERA of 1.33 amidst his 43 Saves and 74 SO. Nathan will also bring plenty of playoff experience to Detroit. Lets just hope if the Tigers make it back to the playoffs, that he can improve in his career postseason ERA of 9.00 in 9 IP. Nathan was inked to a 2 YR Deal this past winter, worth $20 MIL, with a Team Option of $10 MIL for 2016. This doesn’t end all of the teams Relief problems, but it gave them the best Closer that was on the Free Agent Market. There is still plenty of work to do

By Matthew Lafave (Tigers Correspondent)

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The bats are rolling, the starters are clicking, and the bullpen is failing.

It’s no secret that the Detroit Tigers bullpen is struggling. Through the first five games of the season they have allowed 9 runs. To make it even worse, all 9 have come in the 9th inning.

That’s 9 runs on 18 hits through only 13.1 innings for the bullpen. To put that into a harsher perspective, the starters have given up 8 runs on 20 hits through 32.2 innings.

Yes, the bullpen has given up more runs and almost as many hits through less than half the innings.

Phil Coke has been less than stellar his whole career for the Tigers, with an ERA of 5.40 this in 2013 and a DET mark of 4.34 in 265.2 IP, why is he receiving so much work still?  They should cut ties with him if he has a slow start.  Add in a ballooned ERA for 2014 of 81.00 and - he may be gone very soon

Phil Coke has been less than stellar his whole career for the Tigers, with an ERA of 5.40 this in 2013 and a DET mark of 4.34 in 265.2 IP, why is he receiving so much work still? They should cut ties with him if he has a slow start. Add in a ballooned ERA for 2014 of 81.00 and – he may be gone very soon

Your biggest culprits have been Phil Coke, Joba Chamberlain, and Joe Nathan. They each hold a disappointing ERA that isn’t even worth mentioning

Alright, lets mention it anyway – 81.00, 18.00, and 6.75 ERA.

Phil Coke has unfortunately picked up where he left off last season. Not as bad as an 81.00 ERA but he did have a 5.40 ERA in 2013.

When the Tigers signed Joba Chamberlain and Joe Nathan in the off-season they thought they were upgrading a bullpen that needed it.

Through the first week of baseball, the Tigers bullpen has downgraded.

Fans can only hope they’ll regain their form before the panic button is held down at full force.

Joe Nathan has a career 2.77 ERA, a 9.5 strikeout to 9 innings ratio, and is a 6-time All-Star. He is a proven arm with a track record to regain his form.

The Joba Chamberlain signing was a questionable one as he was battling injuries the past few seasons. But it could be a steal of a deal if he can return to his flame-throwing ways of 2007.

The Tigers must regain their form as the minors are not stacked with sure thing bullpen arms.

If the Tigers are looking to replace a left-handed pitcher (rhymes with Koke), there are quite a few waiting in Toledo. Robbie Ray, who came over in the Doug Fister trade this past off-season, just started his first game of the season on Sunday.

He went 5 strong innings and only gave up 1 unearned run on 3 hits.

The 22-year-old is not on the 40-man roster so a move would have to eventually happen. No need to bring up Ray right away but could definitely be here before seasons end.

Kyle Lobstein is a lefty who is on the 40-man roster. He is mainly a starter but could come up and be a solid long reliever. He had a not so great spring training but a nice 2013 season in Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo. He could get the first shot if the need for a lefty arises.

Another name that Tigers fans know pretty well is Casey Crosby. He started 3 games for the Tigers in 2012 with not so great performances, bad enough that he hasn’t been up in Detroit since.

After battling injuries last season, the organization decided to move him from starter to bullpen in Triple-A Toledo. This could be his ticket back to Detroit if he can lock in his mechanics. He has great numbers against left-handed bats so could very easily fit in as the left-handed specialist in the Tigers bullpen.

The last name we will throw at you is Mike Belfiore. The 25-year-old was just claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles just days ago. His major league experience is only 1 game last September. He gave up 2 homeruns in 1.1 innings of relief for the Orioles.

But he did have 37 appearances last year in Triple-A, holding a respectable 3.18 ERA and striking out 82. If he can have early success in Toledo then he is at the top of the list for early call ups.

If the Tigers feel the need for a right-handed arm then it’ll likely be Jose Ortega or Melvin Mercedes. Ortega appeared in 11 games for the Tigers early last season. He blew a save and also took 2 losses, mostly off of homeruns.

Mercedes, 23-years-old, is the long shot to be called up. The Tigers signed him when he was only 17 years old and are progressing him very slowly. He spent most of 2013 as the Double-A Erie closer, saving 12 of 15 chances.

He has pitched in 2 games for Triple-A Toledo already this season and has not disappointed. It’s not likely he’ll be called up this early but could very well be here at end of season.

Regardless of who the Tigers have brewing in the minor leagues, the answer is still in Detroit currently. Phil Coke, Joba Chamberlain, and Joe Nathan should be outperforming everyone. These are the big names of the bullpen and big is what they must be.

Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski won’t pull any triggers too quickly, he knows more than anyone that there is way too much season left. But if May hits on the calendar and these guys aren’t being big, then it might be time to see what a small can do.

Chamberlian burst onto the scene with the Yankees in 2007 - when he Struckout 36 batters in his 1st 24 MLB IP - while carrying a 0.38 ERA.  The team should have earmarked him to stay in the Bullpen - instead they messed with him as a Starter - and he was never the same.  The last 2 years have seen his ERA escalate to near 5 and his WHIP to escalate to the 1.75 WHIP range.  The Tigers are hoping a change of scenery can rejuvenate his career.  Unfortunately he yielded 4 hits and 2 ER in his only appearance so far for the Tigers.

Chamberlian burst onto the scene with the Yankees in 2007 – when he Struckout 36 batters in his 1st 24 MLB IP – while carrying a 0.38 ERA. The team should have earmarked him to stay in the Bullpen – instead they messed with him as a Starter – and he was never the same. The last 2 years have seen his ERA escalate to near 5 and his WHIP to rise to the 1.75 WHIP range. The Tigers were hoping a change of scenery could rejuvenate his career. Unfortunately he yielded 4 hits and 2 ER in his only appearance so far for the Tigers in 2014.  Luckily for the big man. his team still won 10 – 4, and he even picked up a Game Finished for his troubles.  Maybe his 2nd chance will be a lot more effective

MLB Reports Owner Chuck Booth provided the Picture Captions for this Article.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***

A big thank-you goes out to Our ‘Tigers Correspondent’ Matthew LaFave for preparing today’s featured article.  Matthew was born and raised outside of Detroit, Michigan.

Growing up watching all of the Detroit sports with his father he began to enjoy writing about them in high school.

At first started out as e-mails between his father turned into a Detroit Lions blog website titled ‘Hear Me Roar’.

Matthew would go on to get a job as ‘Detroit Tigers Writer’ at the website http://www.examiner.com. He has been writing for them for over two seasons and regularly attends games as a credentialed media member.

Be sure to follow him on Twitter

matthew lafave

Please e-mail me  at: mlbreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.  To subscribe to our website and have the Daily Reports sent directly to your inbox, click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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Posted on April 7, 2014, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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