The Detroit Tigers have historically deployed a weak bullpen, 2020 is much of the same, but a shortened season for rebuilding organization is the perfect time for a comeback story.
When it comes to available free agents, the herd has been pretty picked over, to say the least. As the league freeze due t COVID-19 took place, Major League Baseball was well into their Spring Training season. The Detroit Tigers have failed to compile a respectable bullpen for as long as I can remember.
I’ve often pointed to a mediocre bullpen as being the downfall of the last 15-years. Imagine if Jim Leyland had the opportunity to walk out to the mound and signal for a talented relief pitcher of Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, or Josh Hader? Yes, I’m aware Hader hadn’t been around when Leyland was Detroit’s skipper, but the point being Detroit deployed Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit, and Jose Valverde.
Team owner Mike Ilitch often handed Detroit Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski an open checkbook but he often spent the money on big-time bats and the starting staff leaving the bullpen to be mixed and matched by veteran ‘has-been’ arms. Don’t forget when Detroit tried to solve their bullpen woes with Octavio Dotel, Joakim Soria, Neftali Feliz, Joba Chamberlain, Francisco Rodriguez, and Joe Nathan.
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The organization had never managed to assemble a couple of premium arms to anchor the backend of their bullpen, then, or now.
Since Al Avila’s taken over as the teams’ GM from his old friend Dombrowski it’s been much of the same. I’ve never been much of an Avila fan, but his scenario is a bit different than Dombrowski’s. Avila’s Tigers entered a lengthy rebuild virtually the second he took over, but Detroit’s bullpen continued to be atrocious.
All we can hope for is that the organization has learned from their mistakes and willingly spend on premium backend pen arms when the franchise is prepared to make another run at a World Series down the road.
Until then, the Detroit Tigers should sign the often-injured right-hander to a one year ‘prove it’ deal in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle and trading him for future assets later on in the season.
Arodys Vizcaino is a 29-year old reliever that’s spent time as a closer at the MLB level. The flamethrower averaged 97.4 MPH on his fastball in 2018. The Dominican Republic native broke into the league with the Atlanta Braves as a 20-year old in 2011.
Vizcaino failed to find any success until his third season, which occurred in 2015 where he tossed 33.2 innings en route to a stellar 1.60 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Vizcaino fanned 37 batters and walked 13 while saving nine games.
The big right-hander stands 6-feet-tall and pitches around 245-pounds. Health concerns have followed Vizcaino throughout his career. During his seven-year MLB career, he’s only averaged just over 27 innings of work per season.
In 2017, Vizcaino pitched a career-high 57.1 innings striking out 64 batters while walking 21. That season he produced a very respectable 2.83 ERA and 1.099 WHIP.
The arm talent is undoubtedly there along with the pitching ability, but the health has failed to follow, 2019 proved that once again. Before his latest injury, he lasted just four innings with Atlanta before being shut down for the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury. Vizcaino was eventually sent to the Seattle Mariners after the injury but never made an appearance before becoming a free agent.
His number of shoulder injuries is likely why he’s remained unsigned. Vizcaino has missed 329 days due to injuries throughout his six seasons.
The right-hander became an unrestricted free agent in 2020. In 2019 Arodys earned $4.8-million. Arodys could be a solid eighth inning man setting up for current Detroit Tigers closer Joe Jimenez.
Vizcaino will be trying to prove his shoulder is repaired, and he’s ready to pitch, and what better way for the often-injured player than in a shortened season? The Tigers could offer him next to nothing in the form of a salary, $1-million or less, so why not take a shot?