Why the Tigers should put in a claim for Dan Straily

The Detroit Tigers were dealt a fatal blow on March 20, when it was announced that their No. 1 starting pitcher — Michael Fulmer — would be undergoing TJ surgery. This further weakened an already vulnerable and impotent staff. For that reason, one player who could be of interest to the Tigers is RHP Dan Straily…

Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill announced to reporters that Straily has been released by the organization (Twitter link via Joe Frisaro of MLB.com). Mish tweets that Straily is going on release waivers today, meaning he’ll become a free agent if he clears on Wednesday at 1pm ET. Assuming that happens, he’ll receive the aforementioned 45 days’ termination pay and can can sign with any club for any amount of money (on top of that termination pay from Miami).

Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors

Because he was placed on release waivers, the Tigers would not have to concede any prospects in order to secure the services of Straily (they would just have to take on his full contract).

In 2019, Straily is owed $5 million (very reasonable deal), and he is under contract for two additional seasons (per Joe Frisaro of MLB.com). He could be a member of the rebuilding Tigers’ rotation for this year and next year if they were to claim him off of waivers.

Photo: Getty Images

Last year, Straily pitched fairly well pitching out of the Marlins rotation. In 122.1 innings pitched, he put up a 4.12 ERA and a solid WHIP — 1.30. Walks (3.83 BB/9) and HRs (1.47 HR/9) proved to be problematic; however, Straily did generate swings and misses on a regular basis (7.28 K/9). The most effective pitches in his repertoire (in 2019) were his changeup (19.3% SwStr; .228 AVG against) and slider (13.8% SwStr; .195 AVG against), while his fastball was lagging (5.2% SwStr;.268 AVG against; 14 HRs allowed) behind in terms of value. Although he struggled this Spring (5.94 ERA in 16.2 IP per Baseball Reference), Straily made it clear he was experimenting with his pitch mix.

I would not anticipate a regression in HR/9 because like Marlins Park, Comerica Park is very spacious (pitcher-friendly).

Straily’s 4.12 ERA would have ranked 2nd among Tigers’ SPs last season (1st place: Mike Fiers – 3.48 ERA), and the only SP who outranked him is no longer on the team (he is on the Oakland A’s).

Here’s how the Tigers should construct their rotation in 2019:

  1. Jordan Zimmerman
  2. Matt Boyd
  3. Tyson Ross
  4. Spencer Turnbull
  5. Dan Straily

Matt Moore, who competed for a spot in the rotation this spring, is best suited to pitch out of the bullpen, as I will convey below…

Matt Moore’s 2018 stats (all stats according to FanGraphs) 1st time through the order as a SP

  • IP: 21.2
  • H: 36
  • ER: 15
  • OBP: .398
  • SLG: .554

2nd time through the order as a SP

  • IP: 18.2
  • H: 42
  • ER: 24
  • OBP: .500
  • SLG: .695

Matt Moore’s 2018 stats as a SP

  • IP: 55
  • H: 87
  • ER:49
  • OBP: .419
  • SLG: .569

Stats as a RP

  • IP: 47
  • H: 41
  • ER: 28
  • OBP: .298
  • SLG: .500

Hitters feasted off of Moore’s heater in 2018 (.327 AVG against; 11/19 HRs conceded were off this pitch; 6.8 SwStr%). Pitching out of the bullpen would presumably benefit Moore’s FB in several ways…

  1. He could throw less of them period (Curveball: 14.3% SwStr; Changeup: 18.3% SwStr) in favor of his offspeed stuff
  2. The ones he would throw (to set up offspeed pitches or to get ahead of hitters) would likely come at the hitter faster (more effective)

There’s absolutely no reason why the Tigers shouldn’t claim Dan Straily off of waivers. He is affordable (only $5 million), controllable (under contract from 2019-20), decent (ERA below 4.27 each of the last 3 years), and reliable (over 20 starts annually in each of the last 3 years).

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