Detroit Tigers: Four Relief Pitchers the Tigers Should Sign

Ben Rosener@@BenRosenerCorrespondent IIINovember 15, 2013

Detroit Tigers: Four Relief Pitchers the Tigers Should Sign

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    Anyone remember the ALCS this year?


    If you do remember, your memory is that it was a very, very close series. It sounds silly, but it was probably the closest series ever that didn’t go to seven games.

    You’ll also remember the Detroit Tigers blowing the series because of their bullpen. That bullpen needs help if the Tigers want to finally win a World Series. Here are four relievers they should sign.

Joel Hanrahan

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    Joel Hanrahan was injured nine games into his Boston Red Sox career, and due to the injury and depth of Boston’s bullpen, he may finish his Red Sox tenure with just nine appearances.

    Adept as a closer and a setup man, the former Pittsburgh Pirate would be an added boost to Detroit’s ‘pen.  

    Over the course of his career, the two-time All-Star has 100 career saves, including a personal-best of 40 in 2011. He could provide a cheap alternative to most closers thanks to his injury.  

    Should Detroit look for a higher-profile closer—Joe Nathan, for example—the former Washington National would be an ideal setup man. During his career, he's held hitters to a .201 batting average in tied games, something that could come in handy, say, when you have a four-run lead with the bases loaded in Game 2 of a playoff series.

Joe Nathan

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    The Jose Valverde experiment didn’t quite pan out. Joaquin Benoit held down the fort until the playoffs, where he struggled some. Throw in the fact that the latter is a free agent due for a large payday (probably not from the Tigers), and you have the recipe for "the team needs a closer" cake.

    Disregarding the failed attempt at humor, and the cake, the Tigers need a closer. Joe Nathan is that guy. The Minnesota Twins' former closer has shown that he can close games away from the friendly confines of Target Field, with a combined 80 saves in the last two years for the Texas Rangers.

    What’s more astonishing is that the former San Francisco Giant (that’s a decade-old reference, folks!) posted an obnoxious ERA of 1.39 in 2013.

    1.39! In 64.2 innings pitched, no less.

    For all the non-stat-calculators out there, that’s only 10 earned runs allowed total (says the writer while not looking at his numbers on the other monitor).

    According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, Nathan and the Tigers apparently already have mutual interest.

    The potential of having Torii Hunter and Nathan in Tigers uniforms next year must be eating the Minnesota Twins fanbase alive.

Joe Smith

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    Joe Smith could be one of the more under-appreciated relievers on the free-agent market. While his overall stats are outstanding, his numbers versus the middle of the lineup stand out most.

    In 2013, Smith held No. 3 hitters to a .182 clip. Cleanup hitters did slightly better, with a .222 average, but No. 5 hitters hit only .083.

    That’s a fantastic stat line for a reliever, especially when you consider using him as a weapon in the seventh or eighth inning of a one-run game versus the teeth of the order.  

    If that’s not enough, here are Smith’s ERA numbers throughout his career:

    2007: 3.45

    2008: 3.55

    2009: 3.44

    2010: 3.83

    2011: 2.01

    2012: 2.96

    2013: 2.29

    He’s also pitched for the Cleveland Indians the last five years. In layman’s terms, he knows how to pitch—and pitch well—in the AL Central.

Jesse Crain

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    Jesse Crain has shined in the AL Central throughout the course of his career.

    He compiled a career ERA of 3.05 while playing first for Minnesota and then the Chicago White Sox, and he’s been superb against Detroit’s rivals. The former White Sox pitcher has a 1.45 ERA against his old team. He also has a 2.15 ERA against Detroit’s biggest challenger in the Central, Cleveland.

    Another astounding stat (if you’ll excuse my alliteration) is the number of runs Crain's given up against the Rangers, one of Detroit’s bigger rivals in the AL. His ERA is the equivalent of a doughnut. The big "O," if you will. Or, simply put, zero. That’s a pretty amazing stat considering the stadium in Texas is a launching pad and the Rangers offense used to be a juggernaut.   

    All stats courtesy of unless otherwise noted.