In an attempt to bolster their bullpen, the Detroit Tigers have agreed to terms with free-agent relief pitcher Brandon Lyon (Arizona Diamondbacks) on a one-year contract worth $4.25 million, with an opportunity to make up to $500,000 in performance bonuses.
Lyon, who was 3-5 with a 4.70 ERA and 26 saves for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008, is expected to be the front-runner for the closer's role in Detroit. He began last season as Arizona's closer, but was replaced in mid-September by Chad Qualls after struggling mightily following the All-Star break. Lyon finished out the year pitching primarily in low-pressure situations in the seventh and eighth innings.
While Lyon compiled a 2.43 ERA prior to the All-Star break, he posted an 8.46 ERA in the second half of the year. Opposing batters hit .301 against him, and he allowed 75 hits in 59 1/3 innings. He struck out 44 batters while only issuing 13 walks.
The Tigers have struggled to maintain stability in the closer's role over the past year. Reliever Todd Jones, who began 2008 as the team's go-to guy in the ninth inning, battled injuries and inconsistency before retiring at the end of the season.
Relief pitcher Joel Zumaya (shoulder) assumed closing duties in early August but found himself on the disabled list after about one week in that position.
Righty Fernando Rodney handled the bulk of save opportunities during the second half of the year, but only recorded 13 saves in 19 chances. If not for the Lyon signing, Rodney would have been the top candidate for the closer's role, but the team prefers using him as a setup man. The Tigers are hoping that Lyon can put an end to the revolving door of closers in the Motor City.
Consider Lyon a No. 3 closer at best. He may be a value that late if Detroit is as patient with him as Arizona was last year, but don't count on him for job security at the position. Keep an eye on the rest of the bullpen throughout the season and be quick to the waiver wire if you dare to test the Tigers' ninth-inning waters.
About Jared Byrd
Byrd has served as a Hot Off the Wire Analyst with KFFL since 2003,
covering both the NFL and MLB. A recent graduate of the University of
Pennsylvania, he has played fantasy football since 1997, and fantasy
baseball, basketball, and hockey since 2001.
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