Detroit Tigers Final Grades: Pitchers

Blake VandeBunteContributor IOctober 8, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 24:  Pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers throws apitch against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on August 24, 2009 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Around midseason this year, JayRC and I went through the Tigers roster and assigned players grades based on their performances up to that point.

It was a fun little exercise—so fun, in fact, that we are doing it again as the regular season comes to a close.

Here’s what we came up with.

Eddie Bonine (C+)

Eddie is what he is: He’s a AAAA player—a step above the minor leagues but not really a big leaguer either. He did a decent job of filling in this season, whether it was in the bullpen or making a start here or there. If he was a full-time player, his grade would not be this high, but because of his role with the club, he gets a high C.

Bobby Seay (B)

Although the left hand of Detroit's infamous “Seay-Lyon” had a horrific last month of the season, Seay was clutch this year. His 28 holds were also a career high.

Jeremy Bonderman (C-)

Even though Bondo didn’t exactly light the world on fire, I’m taking the glass half full mentality. It was encouraging enough just to see him throwing pain-free. Hopefully next season, a healthy/effective Bonderman is back in the rotation.

Freddy Dolsi (B)

Like Bonine, Dolsi just didn’t see a lot of time with the big club this season, but when he was up, he held his own. Dolsi mostly played the mop-up game when he pitched in six games this season, but things could have gone worse. He still has a shot to stick with the club next season. For his limited role this year, though, he did the job.

Casey Fien (D)

After posting solid numbers at every stop in the minors, Fien finally hit a brick wall in Detroit. Fien has the necessary tools to be successful but needs to improve on his command.

Alfredo Figaro (C)

Figaro made a handful of starts for the Tigers this season and didn’t show them much. He’s a hard thrower who still has potential. However, he was a bit too wild and didn’t appear to be ready for the big time just yet.

Armando Galarraga (D)

Here’s the positive: He was healthy enough to eat up 141 innings this season. Sadly, when that’s the best thing you can say about a pitcher, he (and his team) has some sort of major issue in the rotation.

Galarraga was lights out to start the season and was flat awful the rest of the time. After his hot April, Galarraga had an ERA around 6.50 the rest of the year. That won’t get it done for anyone.

Dontrelle Willis (F)

After pitching a gem in his first start against Texas, the D-Train was once again D-railed. I have watched many D-Train comeback attempts firsthand in Lakeland. It’s actually quite sad that a former ROY cannot throw a strike anymore. I wish nothing but the best for D-Train; he’s a great guy.

Edwin Jackson (B+)

Edwin has had a rough close to the season. The guy was amazing the first four months of the season. When the Tigers needed a strong pitching performance, they usually got one from Jackson.

However, he has really struggled since Aug. 10. Since then, Jackson has an ERA of 5.83, which in return helped the Twins get back into the race. He may have been overused earlier in the year and may have just worn out a bit down the stretch, and it’s hard to hold that against him.

The great thing about Edwin, though, is that he just turned 26, and he’s clearly a horse.

Luke French (B)

Though his time in Detroit was brief, Mr. French posted solid numbers this season. I never imagined I’d be saying it, but I really wish we didn’t trade French for Jarrod Washburn.

Joel Zumaya (D)

After 2006, every Joel Zumaya season feels like the movie Groundhog Day to me. He visits me on rehab assignment in Lakeland at some point, dominates in Detroit, gets shelled, and then visits the infamous Dr. Andrews. Fingers crossed for 2010; let’s hope Zoom Zoom breaks the cycle.

Brandon Lyon (A-)

Lyon has been better than advertised. He’s been so good that it will likely cost the Tigers some serious cash to hold onto him as he enters free agency again this fall.

He had an awful start to the season, but through the heart of the summer he was almost unhittable. There were a few mild road bumps in the fall, but he’s been the star of the bullpen this season. He took over Zumaya’s role with the team and met the challenge. Worth every penny.

Zach Miner (C)

I really don’t like Zach Miner, so I’ll try to be as unbiased as possible here. Zach was nice to have in the pen this season. It’s nice to have a guy like him that can stretch it out and go three innings when you need him to. He’s also a sinkerball pitcher, so he gets some groundballs, which is always nice out of the bullpen.

However, most of his numbers are worse than last season. His HR rate went up. His WHIP went up. His ERA went down, but you can attribute that to smoke and mirrors. He just scares me when he comes into close games. Could he have sucked more in game 163?

Fu-Te Ni (A-)

Ni dominated lefties, holding them to just a .115 average. His numbers proved that he belongs in MLB.

Ryan Perry (B+)

I know he should not be trusted in tight situations just yet, but the guy is just a 22-year-old rookie who throws 100 mph and strikes out a batter per inning.

While Perry had some serious control issues this season, he showed the promise of a future closer. If he is able to work on getting his offspeed and breaking stuff over for strikes in the offseason, he should be even better in 2010.

Rick Porcello (A)

I was against Porcello starting with Detroit from the beginning. I must admit, though, I sure was wrong. Porcello should seriously be considered for AL ROY this season. Either way, Kid Rick has a bright future ahead of him.

Nate Robertson (D)

On a positive note, next season is the final year of his more than generous contract.

Clay Rapada (INC)

I don’t know why Clay didn’t get more of a shot this season. He’s a young lefty bullpen arm and didn’t pitch enough to say so.

Fernando Rodney (B)

It’s hard to argue with the results. Rodney blew only one save all season. However, his ERA of 4.40 doesn’t exactly scream dominance. Rodney can look downright filthy at times and out of control at others. He’s just not a closer; he was forced into that role with the Tigers.

Justin Verlander (A)

Great comeback season for Verlander. He was a disaster in 2008 but returned to form this season. He set career highs in wins, innings, and strikeouts. He led the AL in innings pitched and K’s; hopefully it doesn’t take too big of a toll on him in 2010.

Verlander was the Tigers' streak stopper this season, and he really earned a reputation as a horse. Clearly, he’s emerged as one of the top 10 starters in the league.

Jarrod Washburn (F)

Tough to see how this one could have gone any worse than it did. He came to Detroit with an ERA of 2.64. In his eight starts with the Tigers, Washburn went 1-3 with an ERA of 7.33. His season ended a few weeks early due to injury, and he would not have been available for the postseason.

Next up, the hitters.


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