The Detroit Tigers have signed starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey to two year, $16 million dollar deal according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Pelfrey is entering his age-32 season and the 6’7” right hander is coming off of his best season since 2010.
Pelfrey figures to be the Tigers fifth starter in 2016 and 2017 while young players like Daniel Norris, Michael Fulmer, Buck Farmer, and Matt Boyd develop and start to come up. Pelfrey had a 4.26 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 86-45 K-BB, and 6-11 record in 30 starts for the Minnesota Twins last season. In his career he has had a lot of ups and downs, but his 0.6 home run rate per nine probably sits well with the Tigers as they play in a spacious ballpark. Pelfrey has a 4.94 AL ERA in his three seasons with the Twins compared to his career 4.52 ERA. He was once a top pitching prospect for the Mets and finished out seven mediocre years there before leaving for Minnesota in 2013.
Pelfrey will be good bottom of the rotation depth for the Tigers, and could even be pushed out of his role as a starter by next year if Michael Fulmer emerges. This also opens up flexibility for the Tigers, as they have the big contract of Anibal Sanchez that they could shop, or they could mix and match arms in the rotation. The Tigers know what they’re getting in Pelfrey. He should eat innings for them in the number five slot and figures to have an ERA north of 4.00, but should put up a positive WAR. Pelfrey has only made six starts at Comerica, so the sample size is bad, but it’s interesting to note that he has 5.91 ERA and .326 batting average against there, which may also have to do with facing the Tigers great offenses over the years.