Detroit Tigers' bullpen briefing looks at the performance of the late inning pitchers over the course of the last week.
The Detroit Tigers have made a few early calls to Toledo for bullpen help. Most have proven to be grasping at straws in the midst of a tough stretch of starting pitching, while others have looked justified and proven an interesting bit of help.
Count Blaine Hardy amongst the contenders for the second category. After coming up last week and being dropped into what seemed as if it was a messy situation, Hardy has helped the Tigers stabilize things nicely in the bullpen.
Since coming to Detroit, he's struck out seven, walked three and only given up one earned run, all while collecting two holds. The run came Wednesday, as the Tigers were in the midst of putting away the Texas Rangers. Other than that, he's been spotless and hasn't looked overwhelmed.
Credit Hardy for taking a brave approach early on during some big moments. The lefty looks to have the right stuff to hang at the major league level, and has filled in nicely for an ailing Ian Krol.
How has everyone else graded out during this impressive bounce back week? Here's a look at the top five relievers, and where they rank.
1. Phil Coke. Surprisingly, Coke vaults to the top of the rankings with a solid week. A big save in Cleveland helped steady things, and since, Coke has pitched well, not allowing a run since a big 12-9 win against Minnesota on June 14. This has been quite the development for Detroit's bullpen, who have ridden a solid Coke to better results lately.
2. Joba Chamberlain. Again, after a misstep against the Red Sox a few weeks ago, Chamberlain has quietly proven to be lights out. He pitched again Wednesday night against the Rangers and enjoyed a spotless appearance. The under the radar Chamberlain has very silently been one of Detroit's most consistent bullpen arms, and it remains that way.
3. Joe Nathan. A solid week of collecting saves has allowed Nathan to move up in the rankings, but his performances since have been troublesome. A meltdown in Cleveland and trouble again on Wednesday night didn't lead to much confidence. At this point, it looks as if Nathan is an aging closer, capable of only going for two days, then needing a significant breather. Fortunately, the Tigers have Chamberlain to pitch in.
4. Al Alburquerque. Since a bumpy performance in Cleveland, the American League leader in appearances has remained steady in Texas, pitching in the first two games of the series without incident. His ERA is slowly headed south as well, now at 3.10. If "Everyday Al" is able to stay as consistent as he has lately, it will help alleviate plenty of concerns the Tigers have.
5. Blaine Hardy. As mentioned above, Hardy gets a special shout out this week for doing well and keeping his head above water since joining the team. There are worse ways to start a major league career, and should he remain unhittable, Hardy will be making a case for himself to stick around.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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