Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 11/19/14
Michigan-news-february

The Tigers have a bullpen problem. Not only have their relievers been largely ineffective, but now they are dealing with depth issues after placing Octavio Dotel on the disabled list. These struggles should come as no surprise because the Tigers had bullpen problems in 2012 as well. What will come as a surprise is that the Tigers seem to think that they can solve their 2013 problems by relying on a pitcher from their 2012 bullpen that was arguably their biggest problem. That would be the recently called up Jose Valverde. As you might recall, the last time we saw Papa Grande, he was "closing" for Detroit in the 2012 playoffs, only he wasn't getting anyone out. He showed a marked decline in skills all throughout last season before finally cratering in October. As such, Detroit did the smart thing and kicked Valverde to the curb. That was where the smart moves stopped. Despite the loss of their closer and a bullpen already thin on talent, the Tigers did literally nothing to address their relief corps. They neither signed nor traded for anyone. Their apparent plan was to rely on rookie Bruce Rondon to close and maybe find some depth from a healthy Al Albuquerque. The latter one of those moves worked out as Albuquerque has been electric thus far, though he has not yet earned enough trust from Jim Leyland to be used much in high leverage situations. Rondon, meanwhile, lost the closer job that was gift wrapped for him in spring training and was sent to the minors only to be called up again on Tuesday. But Rondon is not being promoted to fulfill his manifest destiny of closing games, no that will be a job apparently reserved for Jose Valverde who the team signed before the season started and had him work a few innings in A-ball. This can't possibly end well. This is a mess, a mess created either by a lack of imagination or a lack of understanding of their own players' ability. Detroit management quite obviously misread how ready Rondon was for the majors. But they also misread their incumbent relievers who have thus far delivered the third-worst bullpen ERA in the American League. Phil Coke was foolishly considered as a viable late inning option because he had a good week in the 2012 playoffs. Forget that he has been in the majors for 309+ innings and has a 4.07 career ERA to show for it. They also misread Joaquin Benoit who was just as bad, if not worse, than Valverde late in the 2012 season. Benoit has managed to survive with a 2.00 ERA thus far in 2013, this despite walking a distressing 6.00 batter per nine innings. There really never was anything to like about the Detroit bullpen, yet Dave Dombrowski saw fit to stick with the status quo. Now they are doubling down on the same wrong-headed strategy by reverting back to Valverde as a late inning option despite a complete lack of evidence to suggest that he will be much better than the guy that they happily parted ways with just a few months ago. The shame of it as that the Tigers have a chance to address this glaring hole in their roster before it hurts them too badly. For all the bullpen's struggles, they have only blown three saves and been on the hook for four losses. That isn't good, but it could be worse. If they can get some real help in the near future, they can prevent the bullpen from dragging down their entire season. Calling up Rondon, not Valverde, is a good first step, especially if they actually give him, not Valverde, a chance to pitch in high leverage situations. There may be concerns about Rondon, but it can't hurt to see what he can do since he, not Valverde, has some real upside. But they still need more help even if Rondon pans out. It is never easy to make trades this early in a season, but it isn't impossible. The LA Angels acquired Ernesto Frieri early in 2012 and he proved to be something of a savior for their decrepit relief corps. Finding someone as impactful as Frieri is probably more the exception than the rule, but that doesn't mean there aren't some solid middle relief options that non-contending teams could be convinced to part ways with. After all, the Tigers aren't just searching for a closer here, they need help in the setup and middle relief roles as well. As fungible as relievers can be, the Tigers really just need to have some options to rotate through until they find a set of guys that they can finally rely on. Repeating their mistakes of the past does not qualify though. After all, do we not study history so that we do not make the same mistakes? Study up, Detroit, and try something new before it is too late. [follow]

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Goodell will not recuse himself from Brady appeal

Will Smith suspended eight games for 'foreign substance'

Report: Kobe Bryant likely to retire following next season

Don Shula named in painkiller lawsuit from former NFL players

Kyrie Irving questionable for Game 2 versus Atlanta

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Michael Sam signs with CFL’s Montreal Alouettes

Ex-A&M quarterback Kenny Hill transferring to TCU

Michael Bennett compares Pete Carroll to Willy Wonka

Jim Kelly: There is no doubt Tom Brady cheated

Warriors hang on, edge Rockets in Game 2 thriller

Farrell 'not ruling anything out' as Red Sox's struggles persist

The Los Angeles Angels are finally finding their groove

Re-evaluating all 30 MLB teams at the quarter mark, ranked

Is virtual reality training the next leap forward for football?

Warriors a very shaky 2-0 against the Rockets

NFL icon Bud Grant zings Pats with Deflategate joke on Twitter

RG3 announces birth daughter's birth on social media

Don't listen to Nick Saban, the bowl system is just fine

MLB scores partial victory in minor league wage lawsuits

Ranking the NBA Playoffs' most significant injuries

WATCH: Will Smith ejected for foreign substance on arm

Guy behind NFL's social media trolling of Pats is a Jets fan?

In defense of 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Jim Kelly: No doubt Tom Brady cheated

Post-combine NBA Draft big board: Top 30

Ex-players sue NFL for conspiring to push painkillers

Astros surprising, but can get better with Correa

Here come the Giants

Aaron Hernandez got new tattoo in prison

TUF weekly recap by NOS® Energy Drink

Ten players who could benefit due to PAT rule change

Five QBs set for breakout campaigns

Report: Lakers will pursue Thibodeau

MLS leaders struggling with attendance

LBS: I was a contestant on Sports Jeopardy!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.