What the Joba Chamberlain Signing Means for the Tigers

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As you may already know, Joba Chamberlain and the Detroit Tigers have reached an agreement and the right-handed relief pitcher has joined the team in Lakeland for Spring Training. What does this mean in regards to the Tigers bullpen?

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski gave his thoughts on the signing.

So, if the Tigers stick with what Dombrowski said today, Joe Nathan will be the closer and Joakim Soria will be the 8th inning guy on most days. After that is where things get a bit foggy.

Soria of course was picked up by the Tigers at the trade deadline and was thought to be the biggest addition to the bullpen. Unfortunately, he had an oblique injury and never really contributed to the team during the 2014 season. In the past, Soria has been a very good pitcher, and you can expect that he would be the next man in line if Nathan struggles at any point this season as the closer.

One of the biggest questions the Tigers have in the bullpen is whether or not Bruce Rondon will be ready to step up as a late inning relief man. The young right-hander missed the entire 2014 season after having Tommy John surgery and the Tigers are being very cautious with him so far in Spring Training. If he can step up and become a consistent late inning stopper, it could really help the bullpen as a whole.

Following Rondon is another question mark, Al Alburquerque. Alburquerque actually cut his walk rate in half last season, which was great news for the Tigers, unfortunately those pitches that were once balls started to leave the yard too often. That being said, he has one of the best sliders in the league and if he can control his fastball, he could be dominant.

The only left-hander in the Tigers bullpen as of now is Tom Gorzelanny. Gorzelanny has been a solid pitcher throughout his career and seems like he should fit in nicely as a middle relief type of pitcher. Over the past 2 seasons he has been about a strikeout per inning type of guy and has been able to get out both right and left handed hitters. Last season with the Milwaukee Brewers, Gorzellany only pitched 21 innings but was able to strikeout 23 batters while posting a 0.86 ERA.

So, the question remains, where does Joba Chamberlain fit in with the Tigers bullpen this season? To be honest, I think that Dombrowski was being very honest when he said the Chamberlain would be more a depth type of guy for the team. The best way to describe him right now would be to call him an insurance policy for a bullpen that has a chance to be pretty good if everything falls into place. The only problem is, how often does everything fall into place for the Tigers bullpen? Not too often as of late.

No Beard for Chamberlain

What may be the most surprising part about Chamberlain walking into the Tigers clubhouse Tuesday morning is the fact that he did not have his signature beard. Don’t expect to see the beard at all this season, at least not to the extent of what it was last season.

Contract Details

Tigers beat writer Jason Beck tweeted out the following regarding the contract details for Chamberlain.

Unfinished Business

Chamberlain was all smiles as he entered the Tigers clubhouse this morning in Lakeland. He seems very excited about having another chance to pitch for the Tigers, even though he did have other offers.