Earlier today the Detroit Tigers added depth to their mediocre bullpen by acquiring veteran reliever Jose Veras from the Houston Astros for minor league outfielder Danry Vasquez and a player later to be named.
Veras is 0-4 with a 2.93 ERA and 19 saves this season, and the 32-year-old right-hander has struck out 44 in 43 innings with only 14 walks.
Vasquez hit .281 with 16 doubles, five triples, five home runs and 39 RBIs with the single-A West Michigan Whitecaps as their everyday left fielder and primary leadoff man.
Veras will compliment pitchers Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit which now looks like a strong back end to the Tigers’ bullpen.
One heck of a Roller-CLOSER Ride
It wasn’t an easy road for General Manager Dave Dombrowski to find the right pieces to have throwing at the end of games for his Tigers club this season. As a matter of fact, he would probably tell you himself that he knew he had a big hole to fill in his closer role for his team the moment Detroit got swept by the San Francisco Giants in the World Series last October.
For a team that has World Series or bust expectations this year, and the most quality starts in the MLB from their starting pitchers, Detroit entered the 2013 season with a lot of question marks within their bullpen. As a matter of fact, their bullpen situation is the only question mark Detroit has had all year, seeing that their offense currently ranks number one in the league in runs scored, team batting average, and team on-base percentage.
Before this trade, the Tigers’ top right-handed options in the late innings — aside from Benoit — were probably Al Alburquerque and Bruce Rondon. Alburquerque has struggled with his control, and although the hard-throwing Rondon has looked better lately, he’s still fairly unproven.
The Tigers began the season with hopes that their 22-year-old rookie Rondon will fill the closer role on the team. But after some shaky outings, the Tigers decided to move Rondon down to the minors and sign former closer Jose Valverde to a minor league deal.
But after Valverde continued his woes as the Tigers closer, Detroit eventually moved him back to the minors, which is when Detroit decided that Benoit will be their savior.
Although, even before Benoit took hold of the closer situation, Drew Smyly also racked up some saves for the first place- team in the American League Central.
But Benoit has successfully converted on his last eight save opportunities, and he has a 23:3 K:BB over his last 17 appearances. Manager Jim Leyland now believes he’s found his guy to finish the games for the Tigers.
So now, the Tigers will have Smyly and Veras being their 7th and 8th inning guys, and Benoit being their 9th inning man. With that said, I believe the Tigers are back to being the front runners to represent the American League in the 2013 World Series. Which is huge because that would mean Detroit will have home field advantage this time around, which wasn’t the case in the last World Series.
Benoit has converted all 10 of his save chances for the Tigers this season, and the left-handed Smyly is 4-0 with a 1.77 ERA in 61 innings. Against Veras, right-handed hitters are batting just .162 (12-for-75) against him with two home runs, eight walks and 30 strikeouts. Left-handed batters facing him are hitting at a .224 clip (17-for-76).