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The Tigers’ bullpen woes continue

Jun 9, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT

Joba Chamberlain Getty Images

Joe Nathan was supposed to put an end to the late-inning problems for the Tigers. After a couple of years of dealing with Jose Valverde and moving setup men into the closer’s role, the Tigers said “screw it” this past season and paid out money for a Proven Closer. ™ Except Joe Nathan has been pretty awful and the patchwork in which Brad Ausmus has engaged hasn’t been successful either.

Last night, after Nathan pitched in two consecutive games (and wasn’t all that good in them anyway) Ausmus called on Joba Chamberlain to protect a 3-2 ninth inning lead. It went like this:

Chamberlain gave up another single after that and the inning could’ve gotten even more out of control if it hadn’t been for a subsequent double play. When it was all said and done, the Tigers ended last night with a bullpen ERA of 4.77 which is the worst in the American League.

Chamberlain had been pretty effective on the year until last night, but performances like that are what give managers pause about putting them in save situations. As do contracts like Nathan’s, for what it’s worth. The idea of just pitching your setup man in the ninth inning a la Joaquin Benoit just presents so many hurdles, real or contrived, just doesn’t come easily to most teams.

Or course, it’s probably worth noting that Joaquin Benoit was pretty darn good last season. Just sayin’!


  1. peymax1693 - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    Joba was relying so much on the slider last night that Ortiz, and the and the rest of the world, knew another one was coming. Why on Earth Joba would think that he could basically throw one pitch and get away with it is beyond me.

    But, that’s the Joba I remember from the Yankees.
    Million dollar arm, ten cent head.

    • 18thstreet - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:07 AM

      He looks much better with the beard, though.

      Man, I’m in such a good mood. My friend and neighbor is on her way home from Afghanistan. YES!!!!!!!!!!!

      • 18thstreet - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:28 AM

        Hoping that the thumbs-downs are for the beard portion of this comment.

      • moogro - Jun 9, 2014 at 1:02 PM

        Or people want other people to stay in Afghanistan.

    • pjmitch - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:12 AM

      Don’t they have a catcher in Detroit that is also part of that decision making process on what pitch to throw?

    • pwshrugged - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:27 AM

      I remember the ESPN guys saying that he’d thrown 15 sliders out of 16 pitchers when he threw a fastball to Ortiz. He threw a slider after that, which Ortiz crushed, so at that time, he’d thrown 16 sliders and 2 fastballs. Yep.

      Ortiz even said as much after the game. He told the on-field ESPN microphone that he was just sitting on the slider. Ho hum.

  2. hieronymous27 - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:56 AM

    It’s nothing short of incredible that with a bullpen ERA which is that mediocre, that the Tigers are in first place. Of course it also helps that only one other team in the A.L. Central is above .500 at this point in the season. It looks like Detroit is only capable of winning their division (at best) and going no further come October.

    • nbjays - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      Not only the central… there are only 7 AL teams (and 7 NL teams) above .500 right now.

    • historiophiliac - Jun 9, 2014 at 12:09 PM

      Currently, there are 4 teams in MLB with a higher percentage than the Tigers (and a few weeks ago there were none — such is the ebb and flow of the season). Two other divisions also have only two teams above .500 at this time. Perhaps you should review the standings to assess the facts so as to be more realistic in your pronouncements.

  3. NatsLady - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    Heath Bell is available.

    • gregbeau - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:24 AM

      The entire Mets arson squad… errr, bullpen, is also available.

  4. rbj1 - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    Wait, what? Brad used Joba as his closer? Was Phil Coke unavailable?

    • historiophiliac - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:16 AM

      Coke pitched previously — and got Papi out. We’d already dodged a Coke turd in the game.

  5. historiophiliac - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    Everyone off the flipping ledge! Now! We won the series and we swept the last one against the BoSox, so no need to freak out. Everybody has a bad outing (yes, that’s what she said /sigh). Joba’s been pretty good; ease up. We aren’t the only ones with BP problems — and certainly not the only ones with closer issues. Frankly, a number of teams have SP issues even — and we don’t. I’m unhappy with Nathan, but we are largely okay for now. Dang, we’re only a couple weeks out of being the Blue Jays before they were the Blue Jays! There’s no shame in getting whapped by Big Papi — he does it to a lot of pitchers. If it was Drew, you should worry, but it’s not so everyone chillax. I’m trying to have my coffee here.

    • pbastille - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:20 AM

      welcome back :)

      • historiophiliac - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:22 AM

        Thanks. :)

    • paperlions - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      The Cardinals have a minor league OFer named Jhohan. I had to look….here is only a selection of some of the finest minor leaguer first names:


      • historiophiliac - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:24 AM

        Honey, you might need a little less coffee. Are you cheating on Jhonny or what?

      • paperlions - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:39 AM

        No. The extra h just cracks me up.

      • paperlions - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:45 AM

        I mean, how can you not love Jhaysson, Jhimmy, and Jhancarlos? I want that to be our starting outfield.

      • historiophiliac - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:37 PM

        I dare you to change your handle to phaperlions. Wait, that won’t work. paperlhions?

  6. yankeesfanlen - Jun 9, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    THE FAT TOAD strikes again.

    • 18thstreet - Jun 9, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      I thought that was Irabu.

  7. hieronymous27 - Jun 9, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    I could care less about the other two divisions. I pull for only one team (the Tigers). It is one thing to be aware of other teams & divisions, but I don’t have any “skin” in their ups & downs. It’s just not the way I’m hard-wired.

  8. chaser44 - Jun 9, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    Hey the phillies should be starting to sell off what little they have. Paps, could be a good addition, having a solid season and has experience winning games during the postseason in the AL.

  9. musketmaniac - Jun 9, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    What are redsox fans opinion on Holt. is he a legitimate starter, or just a reserve playing well right now. I follow most ex bucco prospects that we have traded.

  10. pisano - Jun 9, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    Joba showed last night exactly why the Yankees didn’t want him. Don’t think what he did last night was a freak thing, he made a habit of letting leads go in the late innings. Detroit will learn, if they keep using him in tight spots that this guy is an explosion waiting to happen.

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