Just when everyone thought the Detroit Tigers’ starting rotation couldn’t get better, it did. Comerica Park roared with applause as center fielder Austin Jackson trotted off the field, the news of the trade becoming official. The Tigers acquired the left-handed ace, David Price, in a three-way trade involving the Tigers, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Seattle Mariners.
Surely, a gem like price didn’t come cheap, Detroit giving up left-hander Drew Smyly, and Jackson. The Tigers made it clear that it’s either World Series or bust. Detroit is trying to go head-to-head with the Oakland Athletics, who’ve bolstered their team immensely, obtaining the Boston Red Sox’s ace in John Lester, and outfielder Jonny Gomes. The Tigers and the A’s have made it a ritual to meet in the postseason recently, so expect the two powers to forefront the American League show.
Now, comes the infamous problem with the Tigers: the bullpen. Relieving Jackson of duty isn’t so bad; Detroit needs more offensive production out of a center fielder than what he supplied; resigning him wouldn’t have been worth it. Smyly had potential to be a good starter, but the real damage is in what he could have given Detroit’s bullpen in the postseason.
Detroit’s bullpen may not be as bad as everyone thinks. Joba Chamberlain has done a fine job with the 8th inning, Al Albuquerque can man the seventh inning, and Joe Nathan is an experienced closer; he’ll get his act together. General Manager Dave Dombrowski pulled a fine trade, obtaining Joakim Soria, who, despite rough innings with the Tigers, is a fine reliever. He holds a career 2.61 ERA and 177 saves; he’s definitely a useful asset. Now, with Price fortifying the already-stellar rotation, Porcello can be sent to amplify the bullpen this postseason.
Pitching wins games. Price cannot be undermined. Most of the time, Price can go deep into games, until about the 7th or 8th inning. This aids Detroit’s faltering bullpen, especially in the postseason. He’s got a 3.11 ERA, with an 11-8 record — which would be better with run support (the Rays have a subpar offense at best).
The Tigers absolutely have to make a huge run this postseason. It isn’t enough to make the ALCS anymore, or to get swept in a World Series. With this much firepower, Detroit should come off swinging hard. The offense is there, the pitching is there, and the bullpen is manageable.
For an ace like Price, giving up Jackson and Smyly was a steal. He will bring an incredible amount of talent and competitiveness to the Tigers, traits which are championship material. Now, when Max Scherzer looks to get a huge deal, the Tigers won’t be so hasty to resign him; Verlander, Price, Sanchez, and Porcello with any other fifth starter would be excellent.
Trading for Price was an outstanding move for Detroit. They’ve bolstered their pitching, can help out the bullpen with another starter that goes late into games, can send Porcello into the bullpen come this postseason, and can avoid paying Scherzer a huge sum of money.
Price will look good in a Tigers uniform. The Tigers just may hoist that World Series championship after all.