NOTE: The views expressed in this EDITORIAL do not necessarily reflect the views of Detroit Sports Nation or a majority of its writers and should not be misconstrued as such. The views contained within are the views of the author and the author alone.
Tigers GM Al Avila has been busy this offseason. Since taking over on August 4, 2015 for the departed Dave Dombrowski, Avila has wasted no time in changing up the roster. Today, Avila made waves with the acquisition of outfielder Justin Upton. However, as important as improving the outfield was for Detroit, the most important deals struck this offseason were those that reshaped the bullpen staff.
Last year the Tigers underwhelmed and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010. There are plenty of reasons for this, including untimely injuries and an inconsistent offense. However, the ire of most Detroit fans was most heavily focused on the bullpen.
This particular blogger believes that the bullpen was not solely responsible for the Tigers nosedive to last place in the Central last year. However, it’s obvious even to me that something needed to be done. The bad karma and negativity surrounding the relief pitching staff were just too much to ignore. Changes were needed and Avila did just that.
Avila has revamped the Tigers bullpen with the additions of Mark Lowe, Justin Wilson, and Francisco Rodriguez.
Mark Lowe had a fantastic season in 2015 posting an ERA of 1.96. The left-handed Wilson, who will likely be used in long relief or as the set up man, posted a 3.10 ERA last season. Last, but not least, Francisco Rodriguez converted 38/40 saves in 2015 giving the Tigers a solid veteran option as closer.
The Tigers also have Kyle Ryan, Blaine Hardy, and Drew VerHagen to fill out the bullpen. There are also other players like Bruce Rondon, Shane Greene, and Angel Nesbitt with plenty of potential that may figure into the mix.
One thing is for sure: the Detroit Tigers bullpen will look significantly different in 2016. Gone are players of the past like Joba Chamberlain and Joe Nathan who wore out their welcome in Detroit and were booed on Opening Day. This facelift should provide some positive energy to the team and the fan base at the very least. If the new bullpen performs well, the Tigers could be well on their way to contending for the World Series.