Can Trevor Rosenthal Make the Tigers Bullpen?

This weekend, the Detroit Tigers reportedly came to terms with former All-Star reliever Trevor Rosenthal on a Minor League deal. It’s been a bit since Rosenthal has been in a Major League game, but he could be a boon for the Tigers re-aligned pen should he stay healthy. Here’s a closer look at Rosenthal’s past three seasons, and how he could fit in the Tigers bullpen this season.

Related: How the Rockies Bullpen Looks with Addition of Brad Hand

A Look at Rosenthal

It’s been a while since RHP Trevor Rosenthal has stepped on a MLB mound — almost two and a half years to be exact. After a difficult 2019 campaign, Rosenthal found his groove with the Kansas City Royals in 2020. The veteran arm, once a fantastic closer with the Cardinals, struck out 21 batters over 13.2 IP in Kansas City that season. The rebuilding Royals then flipped Rosenthal in late August 2020 to the Padres. Rosenthal pitched fine during the final month of the year, but struggled in the postseason.

Since his last outing on October 8, 2020 in the 2020 NLDS, Rosenthal’s been besieged by injuries. Shoulder problems killed his 2021 season, one that was supposed to be spent in Oakland. Rosenthal then signed with San Francisco, but a hamstring problem kept him out of action for most of the year. The former All-Star was dealt in the summer to Milwaukee, but only made three rehab appearances in Nashville (AAA) before being shut down.

When healthy, Rosenthal boasted a plus fastball that can sit in the upper-90s, and can be paired with a hard slider.

However, Rosenthal’s proven to be quite volatile thanks to control and command issues. That wasn’t much of a problem in 2020, though, as his 3.0 BB/9 rate was hit best in three seasons.

This marks the second time that Rosenthal will be in the Tigers organization. His first stint back in 2019 didn’t go particularly well. Upon being recalled in July 2019, Rosenthal posted a 7.00 ERA over ten appearances (9.0 IP). The 32-year-old walked 11 and gave up three hits in his abbreviated time in Motown, which lasted less than a month.

What it Means

Detroit’s bullpen is set to look very different as compared to 2022. All-Star closer Gregory Soto was traded to the Phillies back in January, one month after Joe Jimenez headed south to Atlanta via trade. Veterans arms Michael Fulmer (Cubs) and Andrew Chafin (Diamondbacks) also exited the Motor City this past winter.

With all of that considered, it’s not much of a shock that the Tigers would look to target some cheap, veteran bullpen help to replace all of that talent. Rosenthal may be a wild card, but Detroit has virtually nothing to lose with bringing him in. It’s not a secret of what Rosenthal can do when healthy, and his 2020 campaign was proof of that.

Outside of probable closer in Alex Lange, Jason Foley, Will Vest and Tyler Alexander, there’s not a whole lot of locks in the Detroit bullpen. If Rosenthal can find his 2020 form and stay healthy, this move could be a coup for Detroit. Not only could the Tigers find a good arm on terrific value, but he could be a trade chip later in the season.

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