DETROIT TIGERS[table “” not found /]
The Detroit Tigers are Francisco Rodriguez’s next stop, as K-Rod enters his age-34 season in the closer’s seat for the Motor City Kitties. He still has great stuff, and actually had one his best seasons last year in recent memory, posting a great 2.21 ERA/0.86 WHIP that was backed by mid-2 peripherals.
His swinging strike rate was the best it’s been since 2006 and the rate at which he threw his first pitch for a strike was the best it’s been in a full season of work for his entire career. He might not be as strong as last year, but even with a small step back, his 2016 should be very nice for Detroit.
Mark Lowe has been an afterthought for much of his career, with some serious struggles jeopardizing his career in recent years. How did he respond in his age-32 season? He struck out 61 in 55 innings pitched while posting a 1.96 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with strong peripherals. His BABIP wasn’t abnormal, though his strand rate was a tad high.
He brought his ground ball rate back up and also walked only 1.96 batters per nine, while his career-best BB/9 before this was 2.97. Don’t go crazy for him, but he appears to have worked things out last year and there’s no reason he can’t carry that over into 2016.
Justin Wilson is also a good arm to keep an eye on in this bullpen, as he posted strong numbers for the Yankees last year in middle relief. When you can pair a 3.10 ERA with strikeout stuff (66 in 61 innings pitched) then teams will want you. His swinging strike rate leapt from 9.7 percent to 12.1 percent last year while he lassoed in his control woes (going from a 4.50 BB/9 to a 2.95 figure). He is a solid holds option.
Alex Wilson and Bruce Rondon are also names to keep in mind, though Rondon is much more interesting from a fantasy perspective. Alex Wilson did a good job for Detroit last year, but he doesn’t have the stuff to earn Brad Ausmus’ trust for the ninth. Rondon has electricity running through his arm and was given a chance to close last year after Joe Nathan got hurt and left the Tigers scrambling for relief help.
Unfortunately, he went full “Ricky Vaughn”, and could not find the strike zone to save his life, walking 19 guys in 31 innings. Ausmus and the Tigers would love for Rondon to figure it out, and if he does then he could be next in line.