Bullpen Blows Another One
Three consecutive losses, three consecutive bullpen failures.
There’s not much question about what part of the Tigers needs shoring up.
Detroit had a nice seven-game winning streak going until Monday against Toronto.
Joaquin Benoit gave up three straight hits and a pair of sacrifice flies as the Blue Jays broke a 1-1 tie and recorded a 4-2 victory.
Then it was on to Boston after a rainout. Daniel Schlereth entered in relief and walked the first batter he faced with two outs in the eighth before giving up a double off the wall that drove in the only run of the game.
The third loss came after solo home runs by Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera created a 3-3 tie in the eighth at Fenway Park. Al Alburquerque, who has had some impressive moments as a rookie but nonetheless had never pitched above Class AA before this year, walked the leadoff man in the ninth and wound up giving up a bases-loaded single to Carl Crawford to end the game.
The bullpen looked to be a Detroit strong point entering the season with the signing of Benoit, who had only allowed nine runs all of last season as Tampa Bay’s setup man. The Tigers were hopeful of, but not counting on, the return of late-inning reliever Joel Zumaya.
The organization figured it had a solid bullpen with Jose Valverde closing, Benoit setting him up, and any combination of Zumaya, Ryan Perry and Schlereth working the sixth and seventh.
But Zumaya was scratched right away, pitching in just the first exhibition game. Benoit looked solid as a setup man — through the first three weeks of April. He imploded in late April, and the other relievers have been inconsistent.
The Tigers don’t have any ready solutions in the minors, but that doesn’t mean they won’t look at one or two if they don’t find a quick solution to their late-inning problems.
It’s probably too early for a trade because teams aren’t ready to give up critical relief help. But that time will come soon, and given general manager Dave Dombrowski’s history, it’s a good bet he’ll make a move in the next six weeks should things continue as they have.
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