The Detroit Tigers are fine with the back end of their bullpen, with setup man Joaquin Benoit and closer Jose Valverde. Left-hander Phil Coke can probably be considered a dependable late-inning option, as well.
But in the middle of that bullpen, the Tigers have several question marks. They have some quality arms in Al Alburquerque, Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth, but neither has proven to be reliable. Their performance in the postseason only underlined that uncertainty.
That’s why Detroit is looking at adding a veteran reliever to help in those middle innings. According to FoxSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi, Octavio Dotel is a pitcher they appear to be zeroing in on.
Dotel, 38, finished this past season with a 3.50 ERA for the St. Louis Cardinals. Prior to a late-July trade, he pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays and held up well against AL East competition with a 3.68 ERA. In the postseason, Dotel compiled a 2.61 ERA, helping the Cardinals to a World Series championship.
What makes Dotel especially appealing is his performance versus right-handed hitters. Opposing righties hit .154/.198/.211 in 133 plate appearances against him. He struck out 45 and walked only seven.
But overall, Dotel still brings strikeout stuff. He averaged 10.33 strikeouts per nine innings in 2011, while walking 2.83 per nine. That’s exactly the sort of reliever Jim Leyland (or any manager, really) prefers to bring out of the bullpen in tight middle-inning situations. He’d help bridge the gap between the starters and late-inning relief corps nicely.
Dotel is probably better suited as a situational reliever these days, with his days as a closer far behind him. But he has performed well in that role, racking up 21 saves as recently as 2010 for the Pirates. If he ended up closing for the Tigers for any reason, however, it would likely mean things aren’t going well.
Morosi reports that the Cardinals have inquired about bringing Dotel back. The Reds and Angels are other teams who have shown interest, along with the Tigers.