There have been many times this season when manager Jim Leyland has been criticized for the way he has handled the bullpen, but in reality, the culprit for the Tigers’ relief pitching troubles has been general manager Dave Dombrowski.
In truth, Leyland hasn’t had much to choose from.
The Tigers’ farm system simply has not procured quality relief pitching. Nor has Dombrowski been able to garner effective relievers from elsewhere that were not costly.
The Tigers have four quality relievers. One is a high-priced free agent closer, Jose Valverde. Another is a high-priced free agent setup man, Joaquin Benoit. Phil Coke was acquired as a part of an expensive trade involving a premier player, Curtis Granderson. The only exception is Alberto Albuquerque, a journeyman minor leaguer the Tigers discovered in the Dominican winter league. And he’s often been unavailable lately because of an arm ailment.
Two factors have killed the Tigers’ bullpen this season. One was Dombrowski’s decision to re-sign Joel Zumaya to a one-year, $1.4 million contract despite his history of injuries. It was risk that obviously didn’t pay off. Another has been the lack of development by Ryan Perry, a first round draft choice from 2008. He has been, to say the least, undependable and is at Toledo.
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