There’s no way to analyze the Mud Hens’ potential roster for 2013 without looking at the Tigers’ roster for the coming season. So here’s a look at who will begin next season in Detroit and in Toledo …
PLAYERS LOST, DETROIT: Jose Valverde, 3-4, 3.78 ERA, 35 saves.
PLAYERS LOST, TOLEDO: Collin Balester, 1-1, 3.64 ERA, 1 save; Chris Bootcheck, 2-5, 4.06 ERA, 17 saves; Zach Miner, 2-0, 2.50 ERA, 2 saves; Daniel Schlereth, 0-0, 10.80, 0 saves.
IN DETROIT FOR SURE: There is no “closer” on the roster, but the leaders of the closing committee likely will be Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke and Octavio Dotel. … Benoit finished with a 5-3 record and a 3.68 ERA and had a pair of saves in 73 appearances. … Coke went 2-3 with a 4.00 ERA and one save in 66 regular-season appearances but was Detroit’s closer in the playoffs. … Dotel finished 5-3 with a 3.57 ERA and one save in 57 appearances. … Al Alburquerque hopes to continue confounding big-league hitters with his slider. He was hurt most of last season but had a 0.68 ERA in eight games with Detroit. … Darin Downs earned a mid-season promotion to Detroit and was 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA in 18 appearances. … Drew Smyly will begin the season in the bullpen after going 4-3 with a 3.99 ERA in 23 games – 18 of which were starts – last season. … Brayan Villareal was 3-5 with a 2.63 ERA in 50 relief appearances a year ago.
IN DETROIT OR IN TOLEDO? While Bruce Rondon was expected to be the Tigers closer when spring training started, he was one of Detroit’s final spring training cuts. He will return to Toledo, where he ended last season (1-0, two saves, 2.25 ERA in nine games), in hopes of regaining the command that allowed him to go 1-0 with 15 saves, a 1.93 ERA in Hi-A Lakeland and 0-1 with 12 saves and a 0.83 ERA for Double-A Erie.
OTHER TOLEDO OPTIONS: The Tigers and Mud Hens have not released Toledo’s roster yet, but one member of the Hens’ bullpen is expected to be RHP Luis Marte. Marte had a 2.82 ERA in Detroit 3.70 ERA for the Mud Hens. … RHP Jose Ortega spent most of last season with Toledo and was 5-8 with a 5.74 ERA. … LHP Matt Hoffman is just 24 years old but had a 3.69 ERA in 43 relief appearances with the Hens last year. … RHP Luke Putkonen will cover multiple innings for the Hens last season after going 3-3 with a 4.92 ERA for Toledo a year ago. … RHP Rob Waite had 31 appearances for the Hens a year ago and was 2-3 with a 4.76 ERA. … RHP Jess Todd spent last season with the Cardinals’ Triple-A team in Memphis and was 2-2 with a pair of saves and a 4.34 ERA. … RHP Ryan Robowski spent most of last year with Erie and was 1-1 with a 3.32 ERA there. … LHP Kenny Faulk was 1-0 with four saves and a 4.53 ERA with the SeaWolves.
POTENTIAL HELP FROM ERIE: The most familiar name for Tigers and Hens fans is RHP Robbie Weinhardt, who spent all of last season with Erie and was 1-2 with seven saves and a 2.73 ERA. … RHP Tyler Clark moved up from Hi-A Lakeland, where last season he was 6-1 with nine saves and a 0.63 ERA. … LHP Matt Crouse also moved up from Hi-A, where a year ago he was 8-2 with a 1.91 ERA. … RHP Victor Larez was another strong arm in Lakeland’s bullpen last season, going 4-1 with a pair of saves and a 1.72 ERA. … RHP Tyler Stohr spent last season with Erie and did well there, posting a 2-1 record with a save and a 2.19 ERA in 23 appearances. … RHP Derek Hankins has Triple-A experience, making 35 appearances for Round Rock in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and going 6-7 with a 4.99 ERA. … LHP Will Startup has Triple-A experience with Gwinnett and Norfolk as well as Portland in the Pacific Coast League. Last season he was 3-3 with a 3.09 ERA for Sugarland, Texas, in the Atlantic League.
THE LAST WORD: While the bullpen names in Detroit have been set, the roles have been left open. If Rondon pitches well early for Toledo, look for him to return to the Tigers in an attempt to solidify the closer’s role. … Rondon gives the Mud Hens a strong arm at the end of the bullpen, and there are plenty of other hard-throwers joining him. The roles in the Hens ‘pen should become clear pretty quickly. … Erie’s bullpen has an interesting blend of experience and youth. The SeaWolves relievers will need to be strong out of the gate to support a starting rotation with question marks.
SATURDAY, MARCH 30: A look at the catching in Detroit, Toledo and Erie.
Click here to take a look at the potential outfielders for the Mud Hens this season. Click here to take a look at the potential infielders for the Mud Hens this season. Click here to take a look at the starting pitching for the Mud Hens this season. And click here to read an overview of the team for the coming year.