Thus far the Detroit Tigers pitching staff has consistently been one thing. Inconsistent. Dave Dombrowski addressed the bullpen during the offseason by bringing Diamondbacks' Closer Brandon Lyon and former outstanding Twins' Reliever Juan Rincon to solidify the staff. He also hired a new pitching coach and traded for Blue Chip Pitching Prospect Edwin Jackson. Dombrowski thought these moves would be enough. Was he right?
Former American League Rookie of the Year, righty fireballer Justin Verlander has shown flashes of both greatness and flashes of his 2008 campaign. Which, was less than lackluster. For the Tigers to succeed they will need Verlander to be consistently good and keeping his pitch count down. Verlander's grade so far is C+.
Armando Galarraga was the most successful Tigers pitcher from 2008. The righty has shown consistency, except in one start. His ERA has only gone up 0.35 (from 3.73 to 4.08). As long as he continues to go deep in the game, throw first pitch strikes and goes after the batters. He will continue to be the Tigers best pitcher. Galarraga's grade thus far is B.
A former Dodgers top prospect and acquired from the Rays, Edwin Jackson. The righty is coming off his second full season in the major league. He posted a 14 and 11 record with a 4.42 ERA for the American League Champs in 2008. Jackson has been very consistent for the Tigers thus far in 2009. Even though his record doesn't show it. Thus far he is 1-2 with an ERA of 3.08. Jackson's grade so far is B+.
The Tigers fourth day starter has been rookie righty Ricky Porcello. Porcello a 2007 draft choice is 2-3 with an ERA of 4.71. He has shown moments of brilliance and moments of being a young pitcher. He won the spot in the rotation by his performance in Spring Training. As long as Porcello's baptism by fire is successful and doesn't damage his stock. The Tigers will have a solid pitcher in years to come. Porcello's grade is C+.
The Tigers fifth day starter has been a revolving door. Initially it was Zach Miner. Miner in 5 appearances has started four games and has a record of 2 - 1 and an ERA of 4.50. If Miner fails to be consistent he will find himself as the right handed long reliever (the right handed complement to Nate Robertson). Miner's grade thus far is C.
Miner has been moved to the bullpen with the Call Up of former Marlins' All Star and 2008 disappointment, Dontrelle Willis. His inconsistency from 2008 was tragic. There were theories that Willis is getting older and his flexibility is in decline. Therefore he had to alter his unorthodox delivery. The more likely theory is that he does indeed have an Anxiety Disorder. He has made two appearances in Toledo and was less than fantastic. Willis' grade is an I, for incomplete.
Former left handed SP, Nate Robertson has found himself to be an overpaid and underachiever since signing the big deal following the 2006 season. His inconsistency has led him from being a second left handed starter in 2008 to a Long Reliever in 2009. In eight games, Robertson is 1-0 with an ERA of 6.30. If not for his contract. He would be out of town. Robertson's grade is D+.
Joel Zumaya since coming back from his injuries in four games is 1 - 0 with an ERA of 0. His consistency thus far has brought some hope back to the Tigers bullpen. Unfortunately, he is consistently hurt. As long as he remains dominant and healthy. He will be a force at the back end of the Tigers bullpen. Thus far, Zumaya's grade is an A.
Left handed specialist Bobby Seay over the last two seasons has pitched 2 out of every 3 games. Seay, through 12 games has 8 holds (he had 13 in 2008) and one blown save. He has posted no decisions and has an ERA of 2.16. If the Tigers are to succeed. Seay's success is paramount. Seay's grade so far is an A-.
Juan Rincon was brought in to solidify the Tigers bullpen. In seven games, Rincon his 1-0 with a robust ERA of 5.23. Which, it has consistently been around five since 2007. Following a 2004 - 2006 run in which he posted ERA's of 2.63, 2.45 and 2.91 for the Twins. If Rincon can tap into the same form that would be an outstanding gamble by Dombrowski. Rincon's grade so far is a D+.
The other very young arm on the Tigers' pitching staff is Ryan Perry. The twenty-two year old is 0-1 through 12 games with an ERA of 2.92 and 3 holds. Perry's on the job training thus far has been successful. He has been very consistent and hasn't shown his youth. Perry's grade thus far is a B+.
Brandon Lyon was brought in by Dombrowski to be the anchor at the end of the bullpen. Brought in to close, Lyon has been nothing short of a disappointment. Signs started to pop up in spring training when he allowed back to back to back to back Yankee homers. The 30 year old righty has posted a 1 -2 record with 1 blown save and an ERA of 5.11. One of the more shocking statistics is that he was 4 k's and 7 W's in 12 innings of work. Lyon's grade is a D-.
The anchor of the Tigers bullpen remains, Fernando Rodney. Rodney's consistency has won him and lost him the job as the Tigers closer time and time again. Rodney has no decisions. But, he has 6 saves. His unblemished record also comes with a high end ERA for a closer at 4.50. The most impressive mark that Rodney has set is that he has posted 7 k's and 1 walk. Very consistent. Rodney's grade thus far is a B+.
Dombrowski went out and made moves to sure up the pitching staff. Leyland's decision to move Robertson to the bullpen has been successful and providing that the Tigers starters are able to throw at least six innings a game. That would allow their relievers to not be over worked and well rested. The Tigers pitching staff's grade over all is a B.