Detroit Tigers should prioritize signing Andrew Chafin

(Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
(Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Detroit Tigers are entering the 2022 season with some lofty expectations, especially with their considerable improvement in 2021, as well as their big free-agent splashes in Eduardo Rodríguez and Javier Báez. Understanding there are these expectations to succeed, the Tigers are going to need more than just the two big pieces.

Of course, Báez and Rodríguez are pivotal towards completing the rebuild. The problem is as it has always been for the Detroit Tigers: the bullpen (or Arm Barn, or The Jungle, or whatever you want to call it). As it stands, the Tigers have only a couple of powerful arms in the back end of their ‘pen.

This is where Andrew Chafin comes in. The eight-year MLB veteran has spent most of his career in Arizona but was with Oakland and Chicago last season. In this time, he has been a reliable piece in the backend of several playoff teams’ bullpens.

Now, Chafin is on the open market, and the Tigers need an arm to throw about 80 innings without the potential regression they could face from Gregory Soto and the Funk(bunch). Plus, the options for left-handed reliever are limited to the aforementioned Soto, Tyler Alexander (also a spot starter), and uhh *checks notes* Miguel del Pozo (-1.1 career bWAR).

The Detroit Tigers need an impact southpaw like Andrew Chafin.

Chafin fits the bill of a 50-70 game reliever who can consistently get outs and keep innings clean. He has built his career off of the back of a low-movement sinker that generates an above-average amount of groundballs. He also throws a slider with a ton of drop that works as his most effective put-out pitch (accounted for 44 of his 64 strikeouts in 2021).

There’s an obvious key to Chafin’s success in the majors, that being his ability to mix his sinker with a 4-seam fastball that both look very similar in terms of vertical break and velocity but vary by six inches of horizontal break (information courtesy of Baseball Savant). This may not seem like a major distinction, but the result has meant a level of deception that makes him a highly effective pitcher.

He limits hard contact as well as mixing his pitches well enough to both have a career K/9 of 9.3 as well as limit his average exit velocity to 87.7, putting him in the upper quarter of the league. 33% of his pitches are “topped,” according to Statcast, which means they are hit with a negative launch angle into the dirt.

light. Related Story. Jonathan Schoop’s versatility going to be clutch for Detroit Tigers

The southpaw is the perfect mixture of a strikeout pitcher with strong stuff and effective pitch mixing, as well as a deceptive workhorse that can limit hard contact and hold leads to bridge the gap for power arms in the back end. Chafin would be the ideal addition to a Tigers bullpen that desperately needs both another lefty and a true anchor.