The Detroit Tigers made a perfect trade by acquiring Jose Veras from the Houston Astros yesterday. He fits the bill that was needed in every way imaginable, bolstering a bullpen that seems to be on the rebound. But are the Tigers done making moves?
One of the big questions lurking in the offices of Comerica Park right now is essentially: how much can we trust Phil Coke? As mentioned a few weeks ago, the Tigers not only needed to add a righty but also a lefty. Rumors persist that the Tigers and Giants, last year’s World Series combatants, are involved in ongoing discussions.
The most likely man being targeted by GM Dave Dombrowski is accomplished lefty Javier Lopez. The 36-year old Lopez, much like Veras, won’t be too pricy to acquire in terms of prospects. Veras required a talented A-ball player and another player yet to be named. Lopez’s package would be similar, if even less costly.
Detroit got a firsthand look at Lopez in pressure situations as he helped pilot the Giants to the title last fall. This year, Lopez has been spectacular. He is essentially a situational lefty brought on to face tough left-handed hitting. He has appeared in 45 games but has only pitched 25.1 innings.
His season long ERA sits at 1.42 and his WHIP at 1.18. He has a 27:10 K to walk ratio and would all but cement the fact that the Tigers bullpen is secure.
If Detroit can land Lopez you are now looking at a pen of Joaquin Benoit, Veras, Drew Smyly, Lopez, Bruce Rondon, Phil Coke, and Al Alburquerque. If the Tigers tire of Coke altogether then they would likely look to Luke Putkonen or Evan Reed to round out the 7-man unit.
However it shakes down, the structure of Jim Leyland’s pitching staff would be vastly improved beyond his top-shelf starting 5. There was never any doubt that Dombrowski wouldn’t let a wobbly bullpen be the reason that his team couldn’t bring home a championship.
Mission, nearly accomplished.