Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said Wednesday the Tigers “have made some strides” in their search for bullpen help. Reports from Fox Sports suggested it might be veteran right-hander Octavio Dotel.
Middle relief isn’t a sexy position, so if Dotel signs, it won’t send Tigers fans into a frenzy – like, say, a Cespedes deal would. But for the Tigers, it’s an obvious need. This past season, Al Alburquerque battled health issues, and Ryan Perry and David Pauley were extremely ineffective.
If Dotel signs, the Tigers likely will have six members of their bullpen in place: Dotel, Alburquerque (if healthy), closer Jose Valverde, setup man Joaquin Benoit, and left-handers Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth. That would appear to leave one spot for either Perry or Pauley.
Dombrowski said earlier this week the Tigers still have high hopes for Perry, a first-round pick in 2008 who’s regressed since his rookie season because of an inconsistent slider and a hesitation to work in the change-up, especially against left-handed hitters.
But Pauley is in the mix, too. Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, “It’s an interesting spring training for him, I think.”
The veteran right-hander was acquired along with starter Doug Fister this past July from the Mariners. Fister far exceeded the Tigers’ expectations, while Pauley, 28, was a flop. Pauley’s ERA was 2.15 before the trade, 5.95 after. And his WHIP nearly doubled, from 0.994 to 1.627.
Leyland attributed those struggles to a couple factors. Physically, he said Pauley relied too much on his curveball and change-up. But the woes might’ve been more mental.
“Fister came over and everything just fell right into place,” Leyland said. “And I think when David came over, I think he put a little pressure on himself, trying to step it up for us right away, knowing that we were in the hunt, knowing that we were playing for something. So I think he’ll relax much more. We know he’s got good stuff. We’ve seen that before.
“I think he just put a little extra pressure on himself.”
Pauley better hope he handles the pressure better this spring.
He could be pitching for job.