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Dave Dombrowski’s Bullpen Strategy Has Failed

August 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Dave Dombrowski thought he had it all figured out.

The Detroit Tigers’ general manager knew that the bullpen posed the greatest problem in his team’s quest for a fourth straight American League Central division title. Dombrowski did what he could to directly address the issue without panicking by acquiring Joakim Soria from the Texas Rangers, but soon recognized that the market for serviceable relief pitching was too risky and too expensive.

So he turned to his starting rotation, already strong with reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, 2011 winner Justin Verlander, 2013 ERA champion Anibal Sanchez, a young and extremely underrated Rick Porcello in the midst of the best season of his career, and token lefty Drew Smyly. The Tigers starters had put together a stellar first half outside of a bumpy week and a half in May, and was generally seen to be the strongest aspect of a team ready to challenge for a World Series.

It could be reasoned that with a capable offense scoring runs and the starters pitching deep into games, the bullpen wouldn’t have to enter many high-pressure situations with little margin for error. The Tigers lineup was one of the strongest in the AL for the first half of the season, and the starting staff was providing solid innings—the formula was working, and the Tigers’ playoff train was chugging.

With that in mind, Dombrowski decided that the best way to fix his bullpen was to minimize their chances at failure. Enter David Price.

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