Last year, the Tigers went into spring training with an intriguing new bullpen as Troy Percival and Kyle Farnsworth were acquired in the off-season to join Ugueth Urbina. A year later, Urbina is in a Venezuelan prison, Farnsworth is a Yankee and Percival spends a lot of time in the doctor’s office. Now, the new man is Todd Jones acquired after Fernando Rodney was unable to secure the closer role at the end of 2005.
Jim Leyland has said that he will bring 7 relief pitchers up north. Jones and Jamie Walker are locks and ,although
When I first drafted this post on paper last night, I had Craig Dingman as a leading candidate to win one of the remaining jobs. That was before I read an article by Crystal Evola of the Oakland Press this morning about an unfortunate health problem which could potentially threaten more than his baseball career. He has a torn artery in his right shoulder, a rare condition which has doctors scrambling to find out what is causing it and how serious it is. I wish him the best of luck.
A healthy Matt Mantei would probably take one of the open spots. The problem is he hasn’t been healthy much lately pitching just 36 innings over the last two years. The former Diamondback and Marlin closer can be dominating when healthy as evidenced by his lifetime K/IP ratio of 396/322. He’s somebody to watch closely this March.
Franklyn German lowered his ERA to 3.66 last year but still struggled with control walking 34 in 59 innings. Another bout of wildness this spring could lead to a trade before the season starts.
Another hard throwing but lower profile right-hander, Mark Woodyard, is a sleeper and has a chance to pitch some important innings for the Tigers this year and in the future. Woodyard is unheralded but the Tigers have always liked him and have sent him to the prestigious Arizona Fall League a couple of times.
Leyland has said that he will take the 12 best pitchers to
Three other pitchers (Roman Colon, Joel Zumaya and Jason Grilli) discussed in the starting pitcher preview might end up in the bullpen as well. I’d be surprised to see Zumaya in the bullpen for the Tigers because I think he’d be better off working as a starter in
Percival is in camp trying to recover from a severe right forearm injury. Surprisingly, he says he has a chance to be ready to pitch by opening day but I have a feeling that’s just his competitive nature. I will be surprised if he pitches this year at all.
One of the most exciting relief arms in
The Tigers also have the usual list of journeymen pitchers trying rescue their careers. Chad Durbin, Lee Gardner, Kevin Hodges and Tim Crabtree are all long shots and will probably either get released or be used to fill out the Toledo staff. Crabtree has gotten the most publicity among that group because he is from Jackson Michigan and because he was once a successful reliever for the Blue Jays and Rangers. However, he hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2001 and don’t think he has any more chance than the others.
My pick for opening day bullpen: Jones,