Detroit Tigers: An ideal scenario for the bullpen during the 2020 season

(Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers have a better bullpen than in prior years, take a look at the ideal bullpen scenario for the 2020 season.

Looking at the Detroit Tigers, it is no surprise that the organization’s bullpen has been a struggle for the past few seasons. Heading into the 2020 season, the Tigers have shaped up a better set of arms to bring into games, which bodes well for the late game strategy.

The late-game closing crew mostly consisted of Shane Greene and Joe Jiménez in 2019, Greene has been traded, and now Buck Farmer has risen to the occasion. In Spring Training and Summer Camp, Farmer has been off to a roaring start and looks to become a more meaningful reliever.

The hope for the Tigers would be that things start looking up for the bullpen, and the pitchers are allowed to get some meaningful work in, less mop-up roles. They have a chance to use this new bullpen plan to keep themselves in games and hopefully preserve leads when they have the opportunity.

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Given the way things are going, the Tigers may not win a ton of games or even have a consistent save situation, but either way, they have a new plan for some of their stronger arms.

These guys, like Farmer, Jiménez, and Gregory Soto, are going to be a part of the new closing crew that could institute a change in the Tigers bullpen.

If all goes as planned, the Tigers bullpen could become more viable in the long term and start to slowly change the narrative of the Tigers having a lousy bullpen.

What to expect in an ideal save situation from the Detroit Tigers bullpen:

Assuming the starting pitcher goes five to six innings, the bullpen will be tasked with preserving the lead. Based on the current projections of the roster, take a look at how the Tigers could utilize their bullpen.

Sixth Inning- RHP Rony Garcia

The Tigers spent a fifth-round selection on a right-handed pitcher from the New York Yankees system, who has not been half bad. They took Rony Garcia and have made it pretty clear he will be in the bullpen in the 2020 season.

Garcia can pitch in the big leagues since he will have to be forced into some ballgames, what better chance than to place him into some “high-leverage” scenarios? Dropping him into a 3-2 ballgame in the sixth inning to help preserve the lead and get a hold is worth it.

The Tigers should try and use Garcia in some of the higher leverage situations they will see, getting him acclimated to the big leagues since he must stick with the Tigers and help eat up some innings during the sprint of a season.

Seventh Inning- LHP Gregory Soto

Perhaps one of the Tigers who is looking to have a breakthrough season on the mound, Gregory Soto, should be given the ball in the seventh inning. Soto did not have a 2019 season that he would like to remember, but he looks to bounce back after refining some parts of his game.

Soto has made some changes and seen some growth with his control out on the mound. Make no mistake, Soto throws gas on the hill and could evolve into a flamethrowing left-handed reliever for the Tigers, and he should be given the seventh inning this season.

As the go-to-arm for the seventh inning, Soto could get meaningful work in, try to lock down a role out of the bullpen for the Tigers. One of the things holding him back is his ability to control his breaking ball low in the zone; if he can locate the low breaking ball better, things could turn in his favor quickly.

Eight Inning- RHP Buck Farmer

One of the arms who has been pretty transparent during Summer Camp is Buck Farmer, who feels that he can be a late-game lockdown reliever. Farmer has been one of the more consistent arms in the organization in recent years, posting a 3.72 ERA in 2019, which was the only ERA below 4.00 for the Tigers.

The right-handed pitcher pitched in 67.2 innings in 2019, where he had the 3.72 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP, and 73 punch outs, looking quite good compared to other relievers. The Tigers will trust Farmer to be the part of the closing crew that will be trotted out there.

On top of being in the teams closing crew, Farmer can step into a game and get a crucial out or stop the bleeding if things get out of hand. The 2020 season will need arms to be ready to go on short rest, more often than usual, and Farmer should be one of the heavily tapped into arms.

Ninth Inning- RHP Joe Jiménez

Since the Tigers dealt away Shane Greene, Joe Jiménez has taken over the closing duties and has become an integral part of the bullpen. He may not be the shutdown closer that the Tigers are looking for, but he should be making strides to become a better pitcher for the organization.

Jiménez pitched in 66 games in 2019, where he tallied 59.2 innings, finishing 29 of those games for the Tigers. During those 66 games, Jiménez had a 4.37 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP, and struck out 82 punch outs, which show that he can get the swing and miss on the mound.

The Tigers should see Jiménez grow and develop as a big-league closer on the mound in 2020, especially as the Tigers look to show improvements in the pitching staff. It will be interesting to see if Jiménez can stage an improvement, turning into a viable closer or if he will fall apart.

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All-in-all, the Detroit Tigers should see an improvement in the bullpen during the 2020 season. It may not be a large one, but they should post better numbers as a group, and these four arms should lead the way.