As the July 31 MLB Trade Deadline approaches, one thing is clear for the Detroit Tigers. The bullpen needs help. The bullpen needs help.
This is the bullpen that looked so promising with young guys like Bruce Rondon, Al Alburquerque and Drew Smyly.
This is also the bullpen that uses guys like Rondon, Alburquerque, Darin Downs and Evan Reed to claim the number one cause of high blood pressure in the state of Michigan this summer.
It seems the only two fully-functioning parts of the bullpen right now are Smyly and current closer Joaquin Benoit.
That’s where Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez comes in. The former all star is reportedly on the market, and will likely be moved in a “near-blockbuster” trade.
Though Rodriguez, better known as K-Rod, isn’t the star he used to be with the Angels and Mets, he has made large improvements from last season’s numbers. He has 10 saves and owns a 1.09 ERA, compared to last year’s three saves and 4.38 ERA.
On top of that, he is averaging 10 strikeouts per nine innings (that’s where the “K” in “K-Rod” comes from) and just three walks per nine innings.
K-Rod could be just what the Tigers are looking for. He could solidify the bullpen in the closer’s position, leaving Smyly and Benoit as setup men. Or, he could even work as Smyly’s accomplice in setting up Benoit, whose nine saves in nine opportunities, 1.60 ERA and 50 strikeouts have made him quite the upgrade from the broken Jose Valverde.
While Tigers fans saw the light of a good bullpen in the Kansas City series (7 1/3 scoreless innings), they still lost two of three, and it is time to make a move.
Rodriguez would be the biggest name they could bring to the Motor City, but that doesn’t mean he’s the right choice. Some other names Dombrowski and the front office need to explore include the Twins’ Glen Perkins, Brewers’ John Axford and, reluctantly, Padres’ Huston Street.
Rodriguez has had a few off-field issues, including a domestic violence arrest, which with good reason could make Tigers fans and personnel a little hesitant.
However, if the Tigers plan on winning a World Series this year, and trust me the city wants and most certainly needs to get that done this year, K-Rod may be the best option. He is under a one-year deal worth around $2 million with Milwaukee, so if he didn’t work out in Detroit it wouldn’t be long-term.
Also, if he were to finish the year with the Tigers, it would give Benoit, Smyly and mostly Rondon more time to mature and become what they’re looking for in the future.
The veteran would most likely work out in multiple roles for Detroit, but it is a gamble. But wasn’t trading for Max Scherzer a gamble when he came over from Arizona?