The Tigers hoped they were picking up two key pieces for their pitching staff when they acquired Doug Fister and David Pauley from the Mariners last summer, but while Fister exceeded even their highest expectations, Pauley was a dud, and the reliever earned his release from the team on Monday.
Pauley, who had a 2.15 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP in 54 1/3 innings before the trade, went 0-2 with a 5.95 ERA for Detroit. The Tigers made the choice to move on after he gave up four runs in two-thirds of an inning in his third appearance of the spring.
One wonders if the Mariners might make a move to reacquire Pauley now. The 28-year-old has always been viewed as a fringe pitcher because of his below average fastball, but he allowed just two runs and 13 hits in 27 innings at Safeco Field last season. The big ballparks certainly suit his game, so he might also be of some interest to the Padres, A’s or Rays.
With Pauley out of the mix, the Tigers will have a job up for grabs in their pen. Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke, Octavio Dotel, Daniel Schlereth and Collin Balester are set for six spots. If they stick with their internal options, the vacancy could go Brayan Villarreal or Duane Below.
It’s a challenge trade: the Tigers and Nationals pulled off an exchange of right-handed relievers Ryan Perry and Collin Balester on Friday.
The trade is a bit more surprising from Detroit’s point of view, but it appears that the Tigers soured on Perry as last year went along, even though he pitched better in the second half than the first. Perry, the 21st overall pick in the 2008 draft, ended the year with a 5.35 ERA and a 24/21 K/BB ratio in 37 innings. Overall, he has a 4.07 ERA and a 129/82 K/BB ratio in 161 1/3 innings as a major leaguer.
Balester is viewed more of a flop than Perry, but he also has the better raw stuff; while both tend to throw in the 93-95 mph range, Balester’s curveball is a superior offering to Perry’s slider. It shows in the strikeout numbers, as Balester has fanned 62 in 56 2/3 innings of relief over the last two years.
Balester, though, has more of a wild streak than Perry. He’s also out of options, whereas Perry still has an option year left. That definitely played a role in the Nationals’ thinking here, as they had at least five relievers ahead of Balester on the depth chart.
Personally, I’d give the edge to the Tigers. Perry’s upside appears quite limited at this point, and while he may be a better bet to give a team 65 acceptable innings than Balester, I’d take my chances with Balester fulfilling his potential one of the years. He’s only been a full-time reliever for 1 2/3 seasons now.