Bullpen derailment all too familiar to Tigers fans

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The Tigers bullpen has shouldered much of the blame in recent years for Detroit’s disappointing playoff exits. After Wedesday night’s loss Twitter was alive with opinions about the game. Most of the ire was aimed squarely at Brad Ausmus and  Joba Chamberlain and his 8th inning meltdown that cost the Tigers the game.

Is the outrage legitimate? Should we be raging at the bullpen? Is this an isolated incident for this season? Who should get the blame for Detroit losses this season? Let’s take a look at the Tigers losses so far and see what can be learned:

Blame The Bullpen!

April 21 vs. Yankees (2-5)

-Bullpen gives up 3 runs in the 7th, 1 run in the 9th

-It’s worth noting that the Tigers scored only 2 runs on 10 hits

May 6 vs. White Sox (6-7)

-Joba Chamberlain meltdown

-A base running error by McCann severely hampers Tigers chance at 9th inning rally

Blame The Starting Pitching!

April 18 vs. White Sox (3-12)

-Sanchez rocked in the 4th inning

April 22 vs. Yankees (4-13)

-Price gets shelled

April 24 vs. Indians (1-13)

-Greene lit up

April 30 vs. Royals (1-8)

-Alfredo Simon gives up 5 runs

-1 run on 7 hits for Detroit

May 1 vs. Royals (1-4)

-Lobstein gives up 3 runs in the 1st

-Tigers muster 1 run on only 4 hits

May 5 vs. White Sox (2-5)

-Greene gives up 3 runs in the 3rd

-Tigers score 2 on 7 hits

Too Close To Call!

April 13 vs. Pirates (4-5)

-Sanchez surrendered 2 homers in the 7th inning

-Tigers couldn’t complete the comeback in the 9th inning. Close game against a tough team.

April 23 vs. Yankees (1-2)

-Gorzelanny gives up 1 run in the 8th

-Another game where the bats go quiet for Detroit

April 28 vs. Twins (2-3)

-Sanchez gives up 2 in the 7th

-Where are the Tiger bats?

Only two of the Tiger losses so far this year can be clearly blamed on the bullpen melting down. On April 21 the Tigers were hanging in with New York until the 7th inning. On May 6, clearly, the Tigers played well enough to win and Chamberlain had a bad night. Ausmus also received some, and probably deserved, criticism for sticking with Chamberlain for too long in the latest loss. All the while, Joakim Soria has quietly put together the best start to the year of any Tiger closer in history.

On the other hand, each starter has been roughed up at least once this year contributing to six losses. The other three losses have been competitive games that could have gone either way.

Furthermore, a clear concern for Detroit would be the disappearing offense. Although, to be fair, all teams go through offensive slumps in a long season. Likewise, pitchers aren’t perfect and have off games (as Chamberlain so eloquently displayed on Wednesday night).

The bottom line is the Detroit Tigers are off to a solid start and are very competitive with the red hot Royals for first place in the American League Central. Regarding losses, it’s way too early to say that either the bullpen or the lack of offense is going to be the main issue moving forward. The sample size this season is just not big enough. What the numbers tell us is that the lack of run support and starting pitching has been responsible for more losses than the bullpen thus far. Whether that trend will continue throughout the season still remains to be seen.

You can’t win ‘em all, Nation. However, early results show that so far this season the bullpen has not been the biggest issue for Detroit. Were the Tigers a victim of bad timing regarding relief pitching and clutch hitting in 2014? Or, was that an harbinger of what is to come this season? It’s a long way until October and we’ll keep a close eye on this here at Detroit Sports Nation as 2015 rolls on.

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