Tim Lincecum is one of a number of pitchers the Tigers are interested in
During the coverage of the 2013 All-Star Game, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver were discussing how good the Detroit Tigers’ roster is, from bats such as Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder to arms such as Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.
Then, they pointed out that the Tigers don’t really have a closer, the one blemish on an otherwise great roster. After Jose Valverde went off the rails in the 2012 postseason, the Tigers swore him off for most of the offseason, then brought him back for an equally disastrous 2013 that ended in him being demoted to Toledo. Joaquin Benoit is currently the Tigers’ stopgap solution in the ninth, but it's pretty clear setup is where he belongs.
The Tigers look to be buyers at the 2013 trade deadline later this month, with relief pitching being their biggest need by far. Here are five men that could be the Tigers’ answer.
Stats courtesy of ESPN.com
2013 Stats: 116.1 IP, 5-9, 8 QS, 9.67 K/9, 4.26 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, .689 OPSA
It’s been reported throughout the 2013 offseason and season that teams are interested in trading for Lincecum and converting him into a reliever. FoxSports.com is reporting that the Tigers are one of them.
Count me as one of those who think this is a terrible idea. Lincecum’s WHIP since 2011 is 1.33, which is definitely not what you want in a reliever. Though he throws a lot of strikeouts, his strikeout-to-walk ratio was just 2.6 in 2013 and 2.1 in 2012. This is when the best relievers in the league have one of five or more.
That’s not all to be worried about vis-à-vis Lincecum. I was doing some research on whether or not Lincecum’s no-hitter would force him into a Johan Santana situation, and came across this scary stat: Lincecum has thrown more pitches since 2008 than Santana threw from 2006 to 2010, including more than 8,800 in the last three seasons and more pitches already in 2012 than Santana pitched the year he threw a no-no. That leads me to believe that Lincecum’s finished as a pitcher, and the Tigers shouldn’t want him.
2013 Stats: 37.2 IP, 2-3, 0 SV, 10 HLD, 2 BS, 6.69 K/9, 2.87 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, .636 OPSA
If there is one certitude about the trade deadline, it’s that both Chicago clubs will be big sellers at the deadline. The Cubs have already unloaded Scott Feldman and Carlos Marmol, and it’s likely Matt Garza is next.
CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman has pegged the White Sox as being en route to unloading pretty much anyone of value. The Sox dealt former closer Matt Thornton to Boston right before the break, and setup man Linstrom, a former closer with the Marlins and Astros, is probably going to be next.
However, there are a number of concerns about Lindstrom. Though his ERA is low, his 1.33 WHIP, 1.65 strikeouts-to-walks ratio, and 6.7 strikeouts per nine suggest a correction may be in the offing. Another discouraging stat is that he had a ninth-inning ERA over 4.00 in both 2012 and 2013.
2013 Stats: 34.2 IP, 1-0, 21 SV, 2 BS, 12.2 K/9, 1.82 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, .484 OPSA
If this article by Mike Berardino of TwinCities.com says one thing, it says that the tanking Twins are going to be sellers at the trade deadline. The year after Joe Mauer was nearly dealt to the Red Sox, the lefty All-Star reliever appears to be the big prize.
Perkins is one of the hottest relievers in baseball right now: he’s one of seven MLB pitchers with 12 strikeouts per nine, a sub-2.00 ERA and 30 frames in the books. Perkins is sixth in the majors in OPS conceded. The last time Perkins gave up an earned run? May 28.
It’s unclear whether having a lefty as closer offers any benefit. And when compared to other times, the Tigers will have to give up a lot more to get him.
2013 Stats: 43.0 IP, 0-3, 1 SV, 14 HLD, 3 BS, 9.2 K/9, 2.93 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .620 OPSA
San Diego’s three main chips in relief are Thayer, Luke Gregerson and Huston Street. With Street continually battling injuries and Gregerson fading fast, Thayer seems the most obvious target.
Thayer looks to be hitting his stride, with his ERA improving each of his last four big-league campaigns. He has a streak of nearly three weeks without allowing an earned run; his batting average conceded this season is a mere .212. And he does have closer experience, serving as a fill-in when Street was injured.
2013 Stats: DNP
In 2010, Brian Wilson was the best closer in baseball. He recorded 163 saves between 2008 and 2011. After Tommy John surgery sidelined him for nearly all of the 2012 run, he was expected to rejoin the Giants for 2013, but was instead put out on the high road.
ESPN’s Buster Olney is reporting that Wilson has been rehabbing in Hawaii and will likely work out for teams interested in him in the coming weeks.
Though adding the Beard to the Tigers’ roster carries with it the risk that he isn’t the same after Tommy John, it has the upside of not giving up any prospects.