Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers Fantasy Baseball Daily Bullpen Updates and Closer Depth Chart

Closer 1st in line 2nd in line 2016 Closer Updated
DET Neftali Feliz Alex Wilson Blaine Hardy Alex Wilson 9/26/15

* – closer-by-committee

Previous updates:

September 26, 2015
Detroit Tigers — With Bruce Rondon out of the picture, it looks like the Tigers are riding with Neftali Feliz, Proven Closer™, regardless of his 6.00+ ERA. Alex Wilson might get the next save chance to give Feliz a rest, but with the Tigers out of the playoffs, Brad Ausmus plans to go easy on him and Blaine Hardy.

Updated hierarchy: Feliz | Wilson | Hardy.

September 24, 2015
Detroit Tigers — One day after blowing both a save and a combined no-hitter, Brad Ausmus sent Neftali Feliz out to protect a three-run lead. This one went a bit better for the experienced closer, as he earned his second save with Detroit. While Alex Wilson will certainly get some of the opportunities going forward, this back-to-back work is enough to move Feliz to the head of the Detroit committee.

Updated hierarchy: *Feliz | Wilson | Hardy.

September 23, 2015
Detroit Tigers –After Bruce Rondon was sent home (and lunch was presumably cancelled) because of his “effort level,” Neftali Feliz got the first save chance on Tuesday and had a combined no-hitter on the line to boot. Feliz promptly blew the no-no and then blew the save before the Tigers won in the 10th. Both Feliz and Alex Wilson will handle save situations, with Wilson likely to get the next shot.

Updated hierarchy: *Wilson | Feliz | Hardy.

September 22, 2015
Detroit Tigers — There’s the door, Bruce Rondon. A calm Brad Ausmus informed the media that he and general manager Al Avila agreed that Rondon’s “effort level” warranted an early departure from the team. In Rondon’s absence, Alex Wilson and Neftali Feliz will handle save situations.

Updated hierarchy: *Wilson | Feliz | Hardy.

September 20, 2015
Detroit Tigers — The Tigers went to Bruce Rondon in the eighth inning last night to try and protect a one run lead, and he couldn’t do it.  Rondon gave up a run for the fourth time in his last five appearances, and his ERA is up to 6.00 on the season.  Manager Brad Ausmus said not to “read anything into” Rondon being used in the eighth.  The Tigers aren’t going anywhere this season so they want to try and give Rondon every opportunity to show what he can do over the last part of the season.  However, he is making it tough to keep sending him out there, even in a lost season, and Alex Wilson could see some saves in the future.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Wilson | Hardy.

September 19, 2015
Detroit Tigers — Bruce Rondon got a second straight night off after appearing in three straight games (62 pitches), but Alex Wilson couldn’t lock down the save, giving up a game-tying home run immediately after relieving Justin Verlander.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Wilson | Hardy.

September 9, 2015
Detroit Tigers — So much for dropping that asterisk. Bruce Rondon struggled again, and this time was unable to protect a one-run lead and convert the save. After the 13-inning affair, manager Brad Ausmus admitted that Rondon has struggled over his last couple of outings, but didn’t want to “pontificate on the rest of the year.” The asterisk will stay off for now, but Rondon needs to turn it around in a hurry if he wants to keep seeing save chances.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Wilson | Hardy.

September 8, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Even when he converts a save, Bruce Rondon does little to assure the Tigers that they’re making the right move in handing him the closer role. Yesterday, he was asked to get the final two outs of a 1-run game, and responded by walking the first hitter, allowing a flyout and single, walking another hitter, and then finally inducing a game-ending force play that was so tight that the Rays challenged the call at 2nd base, which would have meant a tie game if overturned. Still, Rondon did get the job done, and no one else has gotten a save chance in a while. We’ll remove his asterisk under the pretense that he’s still maybe the shakiest “full-time” closer in baseball right now.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Wilson | Hardy.

September 2, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Bruce Rondon hadn’t seen a save opportunity since Aug. 15, but he made the most of his chance on Tuesday, throwing a scoreless ninth to preserve a 6-5 win. It was his third save in four chances, and it came at a good time considering his last outing was a disaster during a game the Tigers were already losing. Despite Rondon’s recent struggles, it appears as if the closer’s job is still his for the time being.

Hierarchy remains: *Rondon | Wilson | Hardy.
* = closer-by-committee

August 31, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Usually, your “closer” doesn’t pitch in the 8th inning of a game you’re losing by four runs. But that’s when the Tigers summoned Bruce Rondon yesterday, who responded by allowing 3 earned runs and getting yanked. Rondon’s FIP remains decent at 3.17, but his ERA is still more than double that mark, and you wonder how often the Tigers can keep using him in the 9th inning even with their season lost. Alex Wilson, meanwhile, didn’t help his own cause over the weekend, giving up two home runs on Saturday.

Hierarchy remains: *Rondon | Wilson | Hardy.
* = closer-by-committee

August 16, 2015
Detroit Tigers — Blaine Hardy and Alex Wilson combined to pitch a scoreless 8th inning and it was Bruce Rondon again who got the call in the 9th.  However, this time Rondon was unable to convert the save opportunity, as he blew the one run lead by giving up a leadoff home run.  He did finish the inning strong by striking out the final two batters to preserve the tie.  Neftali Feliz ended up recording the save after the Tigers took the lead in the 11th inning.

Hierarchy remains: *Rondon | Wilson | Hardy.
* = closer-by-committee

August 15, 2015
Detroit Tigers — Bruce Rondon has moved ahead of Alex Wilson in the Detroit closer committee, and should see the most save opportunities going forward, as the team tries to figure out if he can be the long-term solution. Manager Brad Ausmus added that lefthander Blaine Hardy will also see use in the eighth and ninth innings, based on matchups.

Updated hierarchy: *Rondon | Wilson | Hardy.
* = closer-by-committee

August 13, 2015
Detroit Tigers – With Detroit up 3, it was Bruce Rondon who got the call to close out the game. When he started to get in trouble, hitting a batter and then issuing a 5 pitch walk, Alex Wilson was seen frantically warming up. Rondon settled down and got the next two outs for his 2nd save. After the game, Brad Ausmus said that with an off day coming up he did not want to use Alex Wilson, who was available, but is still recovering from shoulder fatigue. However, Ausmus also said that with the way Rondon has been pitching recently, he will see more opportunities. We have liked Rondon as the closer ever since the Joakim Soria deal, and this might be the first signs that the Tigers agree, but with Ausmus still backing Wilson for the late innings, we won’t shift this committee around just yet.

Hierarchy remains: *Wilson | Rondon | Alburquerque.
* = closer-by-committee

August 9, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Bruce Rondon struck out two batters in the 9th inning last night to protect a one run lead and get his first save of the season.  Alex Wilson was unavailable due to right shoulder fatigue, and will be kept out of Sunday’s game as well.  Manager Brad Ausmus said he would have gone with Wilson if he was available, but he left it open for the future.  Wilson’s injury, as well as Rondon’s performance, will be worth monitoring to determine who ends up seeing the most save chances the rest of the season.

Hierarchy remains: *Wilson | Rondon | Alburquerque.
* = closer-by-committee.

August 6, 2015
Detroit Tigers – After Blaine Hardy got the first two outs in the 9th, it was Alex Wilson who was called on to pick up the final one. He gave up a single, but got a fly out to end it for his 2nd save. Our favorite for the long term job, Bruce Rondon, struck out 2 in a scoreless 8th inning, but with Wilson picking up another save, he is close to kicking the asterisk.

Hierarchy remains: *Wilson | Rondon | Alburquerque.
* = closer-by-committee.

August 3, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Alex Wilson’s grip on the closer role got a little tighter yesterday, as he pitched a clean 9th inning in a Tigers victory. It was a 5-run game, but his main competition, Bruce Rondon, was summoned to pitch the 8th, which gave the appearance that Wilson is ahead in the pecking order.

Hierarchy remains: *Wilson | Rondon | Alburquerque.
* = closer-by-committee

August 1, 2015
Detroit Tigers — Bruce Rondon pitched the eighth inning on Friday in a road game, meaning that Alex Wilson was probably in line to get a second straight save chance if the Tigers had regained the lead.

Hierarchy remains: *Wilson | Rondon | Alburquerque.
* = closer-by-committee

July 31, 2015
Detroit Tigers — After closer Joakim Soria was traded to the Pirates Thursday, the Detroit bullpen was left in disarray. We originally made an educated guess that Bruce Rondon would get the first shot for the Tigers, based mostly on his advanced stats, dissected in our alert sent right after the trade, and the general hype surrounding him. Then, on Thursday, manager Brad Ausmus gave Alex Wilson the initial shot, and he recorded five outs (against the likes of Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Chris Davis) for his first big-league save. Wilson said after the game that it’s been his dream to close in the majors for a while now, so he wants it and the Tigers have a clear vacancy. As we posted last night, Ausmus was non-committal after the game, but did offer Wilson a lot of praise. We’ll move Wilson to the top of this very volatile committee for now; Al Alburquerque and Neftali Feliz are also lurking in the background, too.

Updated hierarchy: *Wilson | Rondon | Alburquerque.
* = closer-by-committee

July 30, 2015
Detroit Tigers — The first save chance of the post-Joakim Soria era in Detroit went to Alex Wilson, and the Chris Pratt lookalike delivered with five outs against the heart of the Oriole lineup. Only a week ago, Brad Ausmus was holding Wilson back from high-leverage work to save him for potential extra innings, but with his former closer heading to Pittsburgh, the manager tossed Wilson right into the fire. After the game, Wilson said “it wouldn’t be a bad thing” if he got the closer job, but we don’t think this situation is cut-and-dried just yet, and Brad Ausmus confirmed that with vague words about earning roles (although also praise for Wilson). If nothing else, Wilson might get tomorrow off, giving Bruce Rondon a shot at an audition. Still a committee, but Wilson has earned his spot at the top.

Updated hierarchy: *Wilson | Rondon | Alburquerque.
* = closer-by-committee

July 30, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Joakim Soria has reportedly been dealt to the Pirates, leaving a shaky Tigers bullpen in flux. If the Tigers believe in advanced stats, they’ll give the job to Bruce Rondon, who has a nearly unfathomable 8.25 ERA and 1.75 WHIP, but has been horribly unlucky, allowing an absurd .455 BABIP. His upside is obvious: he throws smoke and has 18 Ks in 12 innings so far, which is partly why his FIP is 2.66, which is about on par with Zack Greinke. If they’re scared off by his traditional stats, though, Al Alburquerque or Alex Wilson could get a look. Wilson is Rondon’s polar opposite — a low-strikeout control wizard whose ERA (1.84) is lower than his FIP (2.92) suggests it should be — while Alburquerque is somewhere in between, averaging a strikeout an inning with middle-of-the-road ratios elsewhere. Check back to see if the Tigers announce that they’ve given the job to someone specific. So far, GM Dave Dombrowski has said that he thinks Rondon could do the job, but that it will be Brad Ausmus’s decision.

Updated hierarchy: *Rondon | Alburquerque | Wilson.
* = closer-by-committee

July 22, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Neftali Feliz was tasked to protect a two-run lead in the 8th inning on Tuesday, and it didn’t go so well. Feliz ambled his way to a pair of outs before he threw a wild pitch and allowed a grand slam to blow the save. Joakim Soria didn’t warm up at any point in the 8th. Ausmus defended his decision to stick with Feliz, curious as it was, and we’re curious how soon he’ll go back to the former closer in a high-leverage spot.

Hierarchy remains: Soria | Rondon | Alburquerque.

July 12, 2015
Detroit Tigers – The Tigers signed Neftali Feliz after his release by Texas and immediately used him in the eighth inning of a four-run loss. Feliz delivered a scoreless inning and was throwing in the mid- to high-90s. Brad Ausmus said that Feliz, like the rest of Detroit’s non-Joakim Soria relievers, would not have any set role going forward, and that although he would try to ease Feliz into high-leverage work, he wouldn’t be afraid to trust him with it down the road.

Hierarchy remains: Soria | Rondon | Alburquerque.

July 11, 2015
Detroit Tigers – It was an ugly night for the Tigers’ bullpen on Friday.  Bruce Rondon came on to get the last out of the 8th inning and then came back to try and close out a five run lead.  He allowed three hits, while only getting one out, and the Tigers decided it was time to bring in their closer.  Soria walked the first batter he faced to load the bases, and then hit the next batter to bring in a run.  After a single drove in two more, Brian Dozier came up and hit a walk-off homer.   As a result of Friday night’s debacle, Soria’s ERA jumped over a full run to 3.38 and Rondon’s ERA sits at 10.50.  In other news, former Tigers’ setup man Joba Chamberlain was released on Friday and is now a free agent.

Hierarchy remains: Soria | Rondon | Alburquerque.

July 4, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Just nine days ago, Joba Chamberlain had an ERA under 2, but after it doubled thanks to a few three-run outings, the Tigers shockingly cut the former Yankee phenom, designating him (and Tom Gorzelanny) for assignment. Bruce Rondon and Al Alburquerque will slide up a few spots in the team’s late-innings hierarchy but, given their recent performance, both should be worried about newly promoted Jeff Ferrell, a converted starter who earned 15 saves between Erie and Toledo this year.

Updated hierarchy: Soria | Rondon | Alburquerque.

July 3, 2015
Detroit Tigers – What’s going on out in the Tigers bullpen on a nightly basis? Other than Joakim Soria, this team can’t seem to find any stability from its relief corps. The latest example of inconsistency was Bruce Rondon, who allowed four runs on four hits while recording just one out before getting yanked. Rondon’s outing was especially crushing, as Detroit had just scored three runs to get within one. One bad performance won’t shake our confidence in Rondon yet, but that 12.00 ERA sure doesn’t look pretty in the box score.

Hierarchy remains: Soria | Chamberlain | Rondon.

June 26, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Bruce Rondon is back, and the timing couldn’t be any better for the Tigers. Rondon struck out the only two batters he faced to close the sixth inning. Bullpen mate Joba Chamberlain was not nearly as impressive, coughing up three runs to put the game out of reach. Chamberlain is still in the late-innings conversation, but it’s probably time for Rondon to enter it, too, as manager Brad Ausmus said he will not hesitate to use Rondon in high-leverage situations. Apologies to Al Alburquerque, of course.

Updated hierarchy: Soria | Chamberlain | Rondon.

June 5, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Rumor has it that the Tigers may activate Bruce Rondon as early as Friday. If and when that happens, he would slide immediately into Detroit’s late-inning plans, perhaps even usurping Al Alburquerque in the hierarchy.

Hierarchy remains: Soria | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

May 29, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Bruce Rondon is slowly making his way back for the Tigers, tossing a scoreless inning in his most recent rehab appearance Tuesday night. The Tigers, though, want him fully pain-free before he returns to the big leagues. In the meantime, Tom Gorzellany allowed two hits, two walks and a grand slam against the Angels Thursday night, saddling him with a 1.56 WHIP and 5.06 ERA. Al Alburquerque came on to quiet things down with a scoreless eighth inning. Alburquerque hasn’t allowed a run since April 24 (12 appearances, 11 K), so for now we’ll slide him back to second in line, even if he’s only keeping the seat warm for Rondon.

Updated hierarchy: Soria | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

May 22, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Bruce Rondon wasn’t terribly effective in his first rehab outing on Thursday, but the Tigers are just happy that he looked healthy. He still has at least three rehab outings ahead of him before he can return to the big club and buttress its mediocre middle-inning options.

Hierarchy remains: Soria | Chamberlain | Gorzelanny.

May 7, 2015
Detroit Tigers – The Tigers’ bullpen continued to struggle on Wednesday; this time it was the usually solid Joba Chamberlain that took the blown save and the loss, giving up four runs in the eighth inning. Bruce Rondon is now in Detroit, and while manager Brad Ausmus refused to call it a positive step, Detroit could use the young righty to step in and stabilize their relief situation once he is deemed fit.

Hierarchy remains: Soria | Chamberlain | Gorzelanny.

April 26, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Tom Gorzelanny picked up his first hold of the season yesterday, pitching 1.1 scoreless innings before closer Joakim Soria came on to pitch the 9th.  With Al Alburquerque struggling, Gorzelanny could see more action on the later innings.

Updated hierarchy: Soria | Chamberlain | Gorzelanny.

April 25, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Al Alburquerque had his second putrid outing in three days, giving up two home runs in mop-up duty and running his ERA into double digits. He has now given up more home runs in his last three innings than in his first 80 as a major leaguer. Although his velocity is down, he says he feels fine. Bruce Rondon threw on Tuesday and Thursday, and his return can’t come soon enough for this beleaguered pen.

Hierarchy remains: Soria | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

April 24, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Former closer Joe Nathan, the active leader in saves and the second-oldest player in the AL, is out for the season with a torn UCL in his pitching elbow. Nathan suffered the injury on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday morning. Although Nathan will require a second Tommy John surgery, he insists that he will return to pitch another day. Joakim Soria, with 5 saves in 5 chances this season, should be secure in the closer role from this point forward. Ian Krol, meanwhile, got sent to the minors to work on his delivery, which will likely lead to more holds opportunities for Al Alburquerque.

Updated hierarchy: Soria | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

April 23, 2015
Detroit Tigers – The big league club got blown out, but the real story was with the Toledo Mud Hens. Joe Nathan was pulled from his rehab assignment after re-injuring his throwing arm. This is bad news for Nathan owners, but good news for Soria owners, as Soria seems locked in to the closer’s role for the time being.

Hierarchy remains: Soria | Chamberlain | Krol.

April 22, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Joe Nathan is eligible to return from the DL on Wednesday after he completes a rehab assignment in Toledo. If everything goes as planned, he could be ready as early as Friday, though Brad Ausmus was less sure of that timetable than Nathan.

Hierarchy remains: Soria | Chamberlain | Krol.

April 21, 2015
Detroit Tigers – In other injury news, Bruce Rondon is on the mend and has returned to throwing off a mound following being shut down with biceps tendonitis. He will return to the Tigers’ bullpen and could quickly become a strong holds option, pitching ahead of Joakim Soria until Old Man Joe Nathan hobbles back to the Hot Seat.

Hierarchy remains: Soria | Chamberlain | Krol

April 16, 2015
Detroit Tigers — Joakim Soria picked up another save last night, but despite Soria’s hot start, Brad Ausmus said he would stick with Joe Nathan when he returns from the DL.

Hierarchy remains: Soria | Chamberlain | Krol.

April 8, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Joe Nathan is heading to the DL with an elbow flexor strain. Joakim Soria will close in his absence, though Nathan will get the job back when he returns, said Brad Ausmus. Ausmus mentioned Joba Chamberlain and Ian Krol as 8th-inning candidates.

Updated hierarchy: Soria | Chamberlain | Krol.

March 6, 2015
Detroit Tigers – Joe Nathan struggled all year in 2014 and hopes to bounce back in 2015. He’ll start the year as the closer, but Joakim Soria will be right behind him if he slips up. The Tigers brought Joba Chamberlain back, and also signed lefty Tom Gorzelanny. Bruce Rondon is one of the most interesting members of the Tigers bullpen, a young flamethrower coming off Tommy John surgery.

Starting 2015 hierarchy: Nathan | Soria | Chamberlain.
Holds candidates: Soria, Gorzellany.

September 26, 2014
Detroit Tigers – If you’re in a deep league with the holds category coming down to the wire, you might want to snag Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez recently returned from the disabled list, and Brad Ausmus has vowed that he could be used at any point in the game.

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Soria | Chamberlain.

September 17, 2014
Detroit Tigers — After Glen Perkins handed the Tigers a win in the top half of the ninth, Joe Nathan’s poor command and Ezequiel Carrera’s defensive mistake combined to give it right back. After the game, Brad Ausmus confirmed that Nathan remains the closer, 5.10 ERA and all, but Nathan remains on the Hot Seat, where he’s made his home for almost two months now. Although Tigers fans are pining for Joakim Soria, at least this way Nathan is guaranteed more mean tweets to read on camera.

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Soria | Chamberlain.

September 16, 2014
Detroit Tigers — With Joe Nathan having thrown 42 pitches over the last two games, Joakim Soria picked up the save after Nathan got a night off. It was Soria’s first save with the Tigers and his first since July 21. Joba Chamberlain meanwhile got tagged for two runs after walking the only two guys he faced in the eighth inning. When Nathan is unavailable, expect Soria to be the first one called upon in the ninth.

Updated hierarchy: Nathan | Soria | Chamberlain.

September 11, 2014
Detroit Tigers — Joakim Soria returned from the DL on Wednesday, giving up one run in the ninth with the team behind. If Joe Nathan’s arm troubles worsen, Brad Ausmus could turn to the experienced Soria.

Updated hierarchy: Nathan | Chamberlain | Soria.

September 9, 2014
Detroit Tigers — Joakim Soria threw a simulated game on Monday and could be available to pitch as early as Wednesday.

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

August 27, 2014
Detroit Tigers — Joakim Soria is still working his way back from an oblique injury and could return sometime next week. In the meantime, the Tigers put in a revocable waiver claim on Astros closer Chad Qualls, although it’s unlikely to amount to anything. If you were wondering about Jim Johnson, stop. Even after a clean 1.2-inning outing on Sunday, his WHIP remains over 2.

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

August 24, 2014
Detroit Tigers — Joe Nathan gave up another run in a save situation but was still able to pick up his 27th save of the season.  Nathan has converted his last three save chances, but he has also given up a run in each of those appearances.  Joakim Soria is eligible to come off the DL tomorrow and his return will give the Tigers another option if Nathan continues to struggle.

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

August 20, 2014
Detroit Tigers — Almost a week after Joe Nathan made an obscene gesture at Detroit fans, he struggled again in a save situation, giving up a run on two hits and a walk. Nathan’s seat remains boiling lava hot.

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

August 17, 2014
Detroit Tigers – Joe Nathan gave up another run last night but picked up his 25th save of the season.  Nathan’s ERA is over 5.00 but that seems great compared to his new bullpen mate.  The Tigers have called up Jim Johnson, and his 7.14 ERA.  If Johnson can regain the form that saw him record 50 saves last season, he could factor into the late inning plans for the Tigers, but for now he is likely just bullpen depth.

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

August 11, 2014
Detroit Tigers – Joakim Soria’s injury was indeed serious, and on Sunday, the Tigers placed him on the disabled list. This likely gives a slightly longer leash to the embattled Joe Nathan; Joba Chamberlain is now the handcuff in Detroit.

Updated hierarchy: Nathan | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

August 10, 2014
Detroit Tigers – Joe Nathan blew his sixth save of the season yesterday.  He was only able to record one out and was pulled with the bases loaded.  Joakim Soria came on and worked out of the bases loaded jam to keep the game tied.  Soria tried to come back out for the tenth inning but was removed with a strain in his left side.  For what seems like the 20th time this season, manager Brad Ausmus said after the game that Joe Nathan is still his closer.  Nathan has been better recently and if Soria is going to miss some time, he could have a longer leash.  However, the Tigers are in a tight race and if Nathan has a few more outings like last night, Ausmus will have to think about Soria.

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Soria | Chamberlain.

July 25, 2014
Detroit Tigers – With Joakim Soria looking on from the bullpen, Joe Nathan on Thursday pitched like a man who knew that even a single slip-up could cost him his job. Nathan had his most dominant appearance of the season, needing only 12 pitches to strike out the side. It’s possible that he’s still just one blown save from losing the job, but Nathan has likely created a tiny bit of breathing room for himself.

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Soria | Chamberlain.

July 23, 2014
Detroit Tigers — The Tigers have acquired Joakim Soria from the Texas Rangers. Joe Nathan will hang onto his job for now, but his Hot Seat is glowing white with his former set-up guy looming.

Updated hierarchy: Nathan | Soria | Chamberlain.

July 20, 2014
Detroit Tigers – Joe Nathan’s first appearance out of the break wasn’t a pretty one, as he allowed 3 earned runs and took the loss. Nathan’s ratios have improved considerably since he adjusted his arm slot in mid-June — he has 16 Ks against just 3 BBs in his past 10 innings — but when hitters make contact, they’re still hitting the ball pretty hard. He continues to get a vote of confidence from Brad Ausmus, but with his ERA now at 6.23, he’s back on our Hot Seat.

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.
Joe Nathan to Hot Seat.

July 15, 2014
Detroit Tigers – The Tigers lead the AL Central by 6.5 games at the break and are in desperate need of bullpen help. They have been linked to Joaquin Benoit and Joakim Soria, among others, which means Joe Nathan is due for some competition for saves. TRADE DEADLINE SELL: Joe Nathan

June 22, 2014
Detroit Tigers – Phil Coke recorded the save in extra innings last night.  Joe Nathan blew the save in the 9th but he has been pitching better recently, as he has 7 strikeouts in his last 3 innings.

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

June 20, 2014
Detroit Tigers – Before Thursday’s game, Joe Nathan adjusted his arm slot, and proceeded to strike out all three hitters he faced. Might that be all it takes for the once-dominant closer to return to his old self?

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

June 15, 2014
Detroit Tigers — Ian Krol recorded a 4 out save yesterday.  It wasn’t a typical save opportunity since the Tigers were still up 5 when Krol entered the game.  Joe Nathan should be available on Sunday so it will be interesting to see if Brad Ausmus will go to him if there is a save opportunity.

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

June 14, 2014
Detroit Tigers — Joe Nathan pitched for the first time since last Saturday, and, unfortunately for the Tigers, the rest didn’t seem to help.  The inning started off with an error by shortstop Eugenio Suarez to let the leadoff hitter reach base.  After that it wasn’t pretty for Nathan.  He threw a wild pitch, hit a batter, and walked two hitters, including one with the bases loaded, before being pulled.  Nathan was not happy about being pulled (as you can see if you can read lips in this GIF).  Manager Brad Ausmus continues to say that they need Nathan to pitch well, but with the Tigers lead shrinking in the AL Central, they might not be able to afford to keep sending Nathan out there in the 9th.

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

June 8, 2014
Detroit Tigers — Joe Nathan continues to struggle as he gave up two runs last night in a non-save opportunity.  After the game manager Brad Ausmus reiterated that they need Nathan to be their closer.  However, Joba Chamberlain has not given up a run in his past 12 appearances and it’s possible that the Tigers give Nathan a break from closing to figure things out.

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

June 4, 2014
Detroit Tigers — Hometown hero RoboCop threw out Tuesday’s first pitch; even his bounced eephus looked good up against the offerings of closer Joe Nathan, who yielded four runs in one-third of an inning to raise his ERA to 6.86. Nathan’s reduced velocity and deteriorating command has put Brad Ausmus in a difficult position: stick with his $10 million man, who reports feeling “damn good,” or give Joba Chamberlain and his 10-game scoreless streak a shot. After last night’s game, Ausmus made no promises, saying only that he wouldn’t discuss the issue publicly without talking to Nathan first. Joba is the heir apparent, but if RoboCop is still available in your league, do yourself a favor and buy that for a dollar.

Joe Nathan to Hot Seat.

May 31, 2014
Detroit Tigers — Joe Nathan got the night off Friday and the Tigers went to Joba Chamberlain, who converted the save.  Manager Brad Ausmus confirmed before the game that Chamberlain would be the closer on nights when Nathan is unavailable.  Nathan has struggled recently and is probably one more bad outing from the Hot Seat.  Chamberlain showed last night he might be able to handle the job.

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

May 3, 2014
Detroit Tigers — The Tigers have signed former All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan.  He has been placed on the DL and is expected back in June. Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

April 23, 2014
Detroit Tigers — Joba Chamberlain picked up a one-out save on Tuesday night after Phil Coke gave up three runs in the ninth. No hierarchy change.

April 20, 2014
Detroit Tigers – After a rough start the season, Joba Chamberlain has now gone five straight appearances without allowing a run.  He has a 11/1 K/BB ratio and has been entrusted with the set-up role in his last two outings, including yesterday, when he earned an 8th inning hold ahead of Joe Nathan.  Hierarchy change: Joba Chamberlain to Set-up, Al Alburquerque to 2nd in line.

April 10, 2014
Detroit Tigers — Joe Nathan blamed his early-season struggles on a “dead arm,” then downplayed its significance, comparing it to “knowing there’s second base on the field.” Somebody tell Fred Merkle. Nathan followed up the controversy by blowing a three-run lead for his second blown save in three chances, but he told reporters that the ball felt better coming out of his hand. No hierarchy change.

March 23, 2014
Detroit Tigers — Bruce Rondon will have Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2014 season.  Al Alburquerque and Joba Chamberlain should see time in the 7th and 8th innings ahead of closer Joe Nathan  Hierarchy change: Al Alburquerque to Set-Up, Joba Chamberlain to 2nd in line.

March 13, 2014
Detroit Tigers — 39-year-old Joe Nathan was fantastic last year, and he’ll close for a better team in 2014. Ranked #7 in our preseason closer rankings.

March 9, 2014
Detroit Tigers – Joaquin Benoit, who led the Tigers in saves in 2014, is gone but they brought in a pretty good replacement: Joe Nathan.  Nathan is coming off an incredible year in Texas and will take over as closer for the Tigers.  If anything happens to the 39 year-old Nathan, young flamethrowers Bruce Rondon and Al Alburquerque could step in.  Starting 2014 hierarchy: Closer – Joe Nathan, Set-up – Bruce Rondon, 2nd in line – Al Alburquerque.  

September 18, 2013
Detroit Tigers — As predicted in Monday morning’s Vulture Save Watch, Joaquin Benoit was unavailable — but Carter Capps’s ineffectiveness for Seattle robbed Jose Veras of his vulture save opportunity. No hierarchy change.

September 3, 2013
Detroit Tigers — As predicted in Monday morning’s Vulture Save Watch, it was Jose Veras who earned the save by finishing off a shutout of Boston. No hierarchy change.

August 31, 2013
Detroit Tigers – Bruce Rondon picked up his first career save in a rain shortened game on Friday night as he got the last out of the 7th inning with the Tigers up 3.  He also threw his first warm up pitch over the head of the catcher and hit the backstop so it was a pretty exciting night for him.   No hierarchy change.

August 22, 2013
Detroit Tigers – Jose Veras got the last out of the 8th inning in a three-run game on Wednesday, then stayed on for the 9th after the Tigers put the game out of reach.  He picked up his 20th save of the season in the process, but is not a threat to Joaquin Benoit.  No hierarchy change.

July 30, 2013
Detroit Tigers — The Tigers acquired Jose Veras from Houston, and are likely to use him and Drew Smyly interchangeably in the seventh and eighth innings, based on how the matchups fall. Veras’s attractive contract terms also make him the new favorite to close for Detroit in 2014. Hierarchy change: Jose Veras to Set-Up, Drew Smyly to 2nd in line.

July 22, 2013
Detroit Tigers — Jim Leyland might be bluffing, but he sounds like a man who’s satisfied with his bullpen. Joaquin Benoit has converted all nine of his save opportunities, and Bruce Rondon is on a hot streak as well, retiring 11 straight batters over three scoreless outings. No hierarchy change.

July 17, 2013
Detroit Tigers — Detroit is likely to trade for one or two relief pitchers; although it’s not yet clear whether they will replace Joaquin Benoit with a “proven closer” or simply reload with middle relief reinforcements, we think Benoit’s days as the closer in Comerica are numbered. TRADE DEADLINE BUY/SELL: SELL+ Joaquin Benoit.

July 4, 2013
Detroit Tigers – Bruce Rondon got the last two outs of the seventh inning last night before Smyly and Benoit pitched the 8th and 9th.  Rondon’s number in the minors this season were incredible and he looks to be the closer of the future for the Tigers.  Hierarchy change: Bruce Rondon to 2nd in line, replacing Al Alburquerque.

June 21, 2013
Detroit Tigers — Jose Valverde has been designated for assignment and Joaquin Benoit will close when he is available. Al Alburquerque was brought back up from Triple-A Toledo and could work his way into the discussion for the 9th inning if he can keep his walks down. Hierarchy change: Joaquin Benoit to Closer, Drew Smyly to Set-up, Al Alburquerque to 2nd in line.

June 20, 2013
Detroit Tigers – Jose Valverde hadn’t pitched in several days, so he got some work on Wednesday in a game the Tigers were losing.  The results weren’t pretty, as Valverde surrendered four runs.  Jim Leyland didn’t completely throw him under the bus after the game, saying that Valverde doesn’t thrive in non-save situations.  But with Joaquin Benoit and Drew Smyly picking up the last two saves for the Tigers, and with Valverde approaching several performance bonuses, he remains on the hottest of Hot Seats.  No hierarchy change.

June 18, 2013
Detroit Tigers — Drew Smyly retired all nine men he faced last night, earning an impressive three-inning save that both inserts him into the Tigers’ closer debate and illustrates why he’s unlikely to be seriously considered. After the game, Jim Leyland reiterated that he will use a “mix and match” approach to future save opportunities, which could involve everyone but starter Rick Porcello. No hierarchy change.

June 17, 2013
Detroit Tigers – Joaquin Benoit got the last out of the 8th inning on Sunday, then stayed on for the 9th to earn his fourth save of the year.  After the game, Jim Leyland said that Benoit “will be an option,” though he stopped well short of naming Benoit the new closer, saying Jose Valverde would still get save chances.  It’s possible that Benoit, who can be slow to bounce back and rarely pitches three straight days, will get save opps when fresh, and Valverde will get them otherwise.  Either way, he’s definitely worth adding, especially until Leyland offers some clarity on the situation.  No hierarchy change.

June 13, 2013
Detroit Tigers – Jose Valverde blew another save last night, allowing a game-tying home run on an 0-2 pitch with 2 out in the 9th.  His ERA has climbed from 0.75 to 4.15 over the past two weeks, and he’s 3 for 5 in save opportunities in that span.  Meanwhile, set-up man Joaquin Benoit continues to be excellent (1.93 ERA).  Further up in the Detroit bullpen, Drew Smyly’s role has been hard to pin down.  He’s ostensibly the long man — four of his last eight appearances have been for two innings or longer — but he’s also now getting more late-inning work, pitching the 8th inning last night and staying on to face one hitter in the 9th before giving way to Valverde.  Phil Coke, meanwhile, took another loss last night and has an ERA more than double Smyly’s.  Coke’s experience keeps him in the conversation for a vulture save on any night Valverde is unavailable, but over the past few days, Smyly has slid ahead of him.  Hierarchy change: Drew Smyly to 2nd in line, replacing Phil Coke.  Jose Valverde to Hot Seat.

June 10, 2013
Detroit Tigers – Joaquin Benoit picked up his 3rd save of the season yesterday afternoon.  As noted in yesterday’s Vulture Save Watch, Jose Valverde had pitched in three straight.  No hierarchy change.

June 9, 2013
Detroit Tigers – Phil Coke has been better as of late.  This isn’t saying much, given that his ERA has been below 5.00 at exactly one point since opening day.  However, he’s strung together five straight scoreless appearances, including a nice outing on Saturday where he finished off the 7th and then pitched the 8th ahead of Jose Valverde.  Although Drew Smyly is having a much better season, Coke’s late-inning experience and recent stretch of respectability makes him the go-to lefty again in the Detroit bullpen.  Hierarchy change: Phil Coke to 2nd in line, replacing Drew Smyly.

May 17, 2013
Detroit Tigers – After taking the loss on Wednesday, Al Alburquerque was sent to the minors to work on his control.  With 26 Ks in 14.1 innings, Alburquerque has electric stuff, but he’d walked 13 batters and thrown six wild pitches, good to lead the majors (which is hard to do as a reliever).  Drew Smyly has a 1.88 ERA on the season and might see more holds in Alburquerque’s absence.  Hierarchy change: Drew Smyly to 2nd in line, replacing Al Alburquerque.

April 30, 2013
Detroit Tigers – After lefty Drew Smyly retired two lefties to start the ninth, Joaquin Benoit came on to face a righty, collecting the save. Jose Valverde had pitched in two straight games and was unavailableNo hierarchy change.

April 29, 2013
Detroit Tigers – Al Alburquerque struck out three more hitters on Sunday, and now has 21 Ks in just 11.2 innings to go along with a 1.54 ERA.  It wasn’t a save/hold situation, as the Tigers were up five, but they still used Jose Valverde in the 9th inning, which by extension makes Alburquerque’s 8th inning appearance somewhat more meaningful.  He’s now likely ahead of Phil Coke in the Detroit bullpen hierarchy; the veteran lefty has seen his ERA jump to 8.31 after a bad outing earlier this week.  Hierarchy change: Al Albuerquerque to 2nd in line, replacing Phil Coke.

April 24, 2013
Detroit Tigers – After a short stint in the minors, Jose Valverde has been called up to the big leagues and will close starting today.  Joaquin Benoit will return to his familiar 8th inning role. Three innings of class-A ball might have been enough to wow Jim Leyland, but in our book, Valverde starts out on the Hot Seat. Hierarchy change: Jose Valverde to Closer, Joaquin Benoit to Set-up, Phil Coke to 2nd in line.  

April 18, 2013
Detroit Tigers – About a week ago, Jim Leyland said Joaquin Benoit would be his closer in most situations, and like all things Leyland, we thought we’d believe it when we saw it.  Early this morning, we finally saw it, as the Tigers went to the veteran righty after finally inching ahead of the Mariners in the 14th inning.  Benoit allowed two hits but picked up his first save of the year, and likely will lead the Detroit save chase for the foreseeable future.  Hierarchy change: Joaquin Benoit to Closer, Phil Coke to Set-up.

April 13, 2013
Detroit Tigers – Jim Leyland said earlier this week that Joaquin Benoit would be his 9th inning man in most situations, though added a few caveats, namely that Benoit needed to stay fresh to be effective, so would only sometimes pitch on back-to-back days and definitely could never go three in a row.  Like with all things related to Leyland and the Detroit closer situation, we figured we’d believe it when we saw it.  However, last night in an extra inning game on the road, Benoit was warming for a potential save opportunity late in the game, and is now worth stashing, especially if you have Phil Coke and want to monopolize Tigers saves.  If Benoit gets the next save opp, he’ll likely pass Coke as the Detroit reliever you most want to own, if you only have room for one.  No hierarchy change.

April 6, 2013
Detroit Tigers – Jim Leyland is just messing with us now, leaving long man Drew Smyly in for a four-inning save, as the Tigers slowly pulled away from the Yankees. No hierarchy change.

April 5, 2013
Detroit Tigers – In another threat to the Tigers’ fragile bullpen-by-committee setup, the team signed freshly shaven free agent Jose Valverde to a minor-league contract on Thursday. He’ll start out in extended spring training, then travel to Triple-A Toledo, and can opt out of the deal if he’s not in the majors by May 5. No hierarchy change.

April 3, 2013
Detroit Tigers – We’re two games into the season, and Phil Coke has gotten both save opportunities for the Tigers.  He blew the save, retiring the first man before allowing two hits.  Additionally, the batters he faced were two lefties and a switch hitter, so Jim Leyland could still very easily be playing matchups, and it could just have fallen on Coke on the first two games of the season.  But if you’re only going to own one Tigers reliever, he’s the guy; Joaquin Benoit and Al Alburquerque are also worth stashing, if you have the room.  Hierarchy change: Phil Coke to Closer, Joaquin Benoit to Set-up.

April 2, 2013
Detroit Tigers – The first save of the Detroit season went to Phil Coke, who retired the final two batters of the game.  Joaquin Benoit had started the 8th and 9th innings, both of which were led off by righties, and Coke came on to face a lefty in the 9th.  Al Alburquerque pitched the 7th.  After the game, Jim Leyland said: “Today, it was Alburquerque, Benoit and Coke, and the next game, it might be Darin Downs, Villarreal and Dotel. That’s just the way it’s going to be. It’s nothing different from what we’ve been talking about all along.”  Though Leyland’s comment suggests there is still no single reliever who will be getting the bulk of the saves in Detroit, the three relievers who pitched on Opening Day are still the three we like best.  No hierarchy change. 

April 1, 2013
Detroit Tigers – Joaquin Benoit, our listed “closer” is not actually the team’s stopper, as Jim Leyland has indicated that any member of the bullpen could be the man to get the final outs.  Based on the volatility of the bullpen, however, it is safe to say that a few bad outings from Benoit (or any of the team’s other relievers) will remove him from the discussion.  Joaquin Benoit to Hot Seat

March 28, 2013
Detroit Tigers – The Tigers have sent would-be closer Bruce Rondon to the minors after a disastrous outing on Wednesday.  The Detroit Free Press believes the Tigers will go with a closer-by-committee that includes Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke, Al Alburquerque and Octavio Dotel.  Of these four, Dotel has the most experience, Alburquerque the most potential, Benoit was the most reliable man last year, and Coke got the most opportunities down the stretch.  Best guess is that Coke and Benoit will split opportunities for the time being.  Hierarchy change: Joaquin Benoit to Closer, Phil Coke to Set-up, Al Alburquerque to 2nd in line.

March 20, 2013
Detroit Tigers – The Tigers have still not declared a closer, though Bruce Rondon remains the favorite.  Others who could have an opportunity to close include Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke, or Al Albuquerque, but each carries a question mark.  Jim Leyland said earlier this spring that he wasn’t sure that Benoit had the ability to bounce back in the way the position requires.  Coke, who picked up a handful of saves late last season, remains a possibility, but is the only lefty in the back end of the bullpen and may be better suited as a match-up guy.  Albuquerque has had trouble staying healthy.  Rondon, meanwhile, has pitched better as of late, and probably has a 50/50 shot of being named the full-time closer at this point.  No hierarchy change.

March 7, 2013
Detroit Tigers – A decision has not yet been made on Bruce Rondon’s role this season, though his spring struggles have led to rampant speculation that the Tigers will trade for a closer.  For now, Rondon is still the best candidate to enter the season as the stopper, but a few good spring outings would certainly put everyone at ease.  No hierarchy change.

February 24, 2013
Detroit Tigers – With Jose Valverde’s departure, the early favorite to win the closer job is rookie fireballer Bruce Rondon.  But if Rondon struggles this spring, veterans Phil Coke or Joaquin Benoit could get a shot at finishing games.  Starting 2013 hierarchy: Closer- Bruce Rondon, Set-up- Joaquin Benoit, 2nd in line- Phil Coke. 

September 21, 2012
Detroit Tigers – Al Alburquerque was extraordinary for the Tigers last season, but a stress fracture in his throwing elbow required offseason surgery, sidelining him for much of this year. In the four outings since his recall on September 2, Alburquerque has allowed only one hit against nine strikeouts; that includes a sparkling 2.1 innings yesterday against Oakland. His return will ease any Tiger concern about Octavio Dotel’s recent struggles. Hierarchy change: Al Alburquerque to 2nd in line, replacing Octavio Dotel.

August 10, 2012
Detroit Tigers – Octavio Dotel got the last two outs of the 7th inning on Thursday two days after he earned an 8th inning hold. The veteran has been used in higher-leverage spots than Phil Coke in recent weeks. Hierarchy change: Octavio Dotel to 2nd in line, replacing Phil Coke.

July 23, 2012
Detroit Tigers – Jose Valverde experienced some back tightness before Sunday’s game, so he was held out of action, but manager Jim Leyland said the injury was not serious. Joaquin Benoit got the save in his place. No hierarchy change.

July 13, 2012
Detroit Tigers – The Tigers are looking to buy, but like the Indians, they seem to be in the market for a bat, or possibly a starting pitcher. Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit have been solid at the back-end of the Tigers’ pen, and their hierarchy is unlikely to be affected by any deals. TRADE DEADLINE BUY/SELL: None.

June 20, 2012
Detroit Tigers – While warming up in the bullpen on Tuesday, Jose Valverde hurt his wrist and was held out of the game; Phil Coke entered in his place and picked up his first save of the season. An initial exam by the Tigers medical staff suggested that the injury was minor, but Valverde still went for an MRI after the game. The Tigers will likely announce the results before today’s game. Valverde himself said he didn’t think that the injury was serious, but if he does need a DL stint, Joaquin Benoit will see the bulk of the save opportunities. No hierarchy change.

May 21, 2012
Detroit Tigers – Jose Valverde was still day-to-day with a sore back and Joaquin Benoit recorded a shaky save in his place on Sunday. Valverde is expected back for the Tigers on Tuesday. No hierarchy change.

May 16, 2012
Detroit Tigers – Jose Valverde pitched to five hitters in the 9th inning on Tuesday before exiting with a sore back. Octavio Dotel got a one-out save in his place, and Valverde said after the game that he was day-to-day. No hierarchy change.

April 13, 2012
Detroit Tigers- Phil Coke was the last of several relievers used by the Tigers to bridge the gap to 8th inning man Joaquin Benoit yesterday, and he’s been used 3 times in the 8th inning in pressure spots, pitching to both righties and lefties. Hierarchy change: Phil Coke to 2nd in line, replacing Octavio Dotel.

March 28, 2012
Detroit Tigers- The Tigers enter 2012 with a stable bullpen hierarchy. Newcomer Octavio Dotel will be used in a 7th inning role. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Jose Valverde, Set-up- Joaquin Benoit, 2nd in line- Octavio Dotel.

Aug. 24, 2011
Detroit Tigers- Since Jose Valverde had pitched in the last few games, Phil Coke got a rare opportunity for a save. He got the save, stranding two runners on base. Valverde’s role will obviously not be affected, but keep an eye out for Coke to be in the mix more often. No hierarchy change.

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