Tigers sign Pelfrey to a two-year, $16 million deal

The Detroit Tigers made their second acquisition of a starting pitcher (Jordan Zimmermann being the first), when they acquired Mike Pelfrey for the next two years. The deal is worth $16 million, with an average annual salary of $8 million. Since joining the Twins in the 2013 season. Mike Pelfrey has struggled greatly, and many experts believe the $16 million deal, to be overkill for a back of the rotation starter, on his best days. Many Tigers fans have been left questioning the competence of new GM Al Avila, but despite overpaying to do so, he has created something of which was formerly nothing.
Mike Pelfrey, who will be 32 in January, is known to be a groundball machine with his extraordinary sinker. Pelfrey was drafted in the first round of the 2005 amateur draft by the New York Mets, and played in the major leagues in his first year of professional baseball at the age of 22. After being an effective innings eater at the back of the Mets rotation from 2008-2011, Pelfrey went down in the early 2012 season, needing Tommy John surgery. He then signed with the Minnesota Twins in the 2013 season, and has since struggled to return to form. He has also dealt with an elbow injury, and continuous shoulder issues.
The 2015 season was somewhat of a rebound year for the often injured Pelfrey, when his 2014 season ended abruptly with nerve irritation in his elbow. When his role on the 2015 Twins roster seemed to be destined for the bullpen, Pelfrey’s luck turned when fellow Twins starter Ervin Santana was suspended 80 games for PED use. Pelfrey took advantage and started off the season fabulously with 2.25 ERA in March and April, and his fastball reached its highest velocity since getting Tommy John surgery in 2012. Unfortunately these numbers did not persist, and he finished the season with a mediocre 4.26 ERA, and a 1.476 WHIP, although he did own the lowest HR/9 rate in the entire American League in 2015. The pitcher friendly ballpark at Target field, Pelfrey’s home in 2015, contributed to a lot of his success. Outside of Target field, Pelfrey had an atrocious 5.93 ERA where batters hit .349 against him, which is a huge area of concern. The risk in this two year deal is clearer than Dan Jennings’ incompetence.
Al Avila was hired midway through the 2015 season, after former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski had recently traded the team’s ace, David Price. Al Avila’s starting rotation was left in shambles after the Cy Young winner was dumped, and many of its places were filled with inexperienced rookie arms. Despite greatly overpaying to fill the holes of the broken rotation, Avila has now re-established it, and it’s now reliable and competent. The Tigers rotation for 2016, if opening day was today, would look like this: 1.Justin Verlander 2.Jordan Zimmermann 3.Anibal Sanchez 4.Daniel Norris 5.Mike Pelfrey.
Despite the risks at the back end with Pelfrey and the highly touted left handed rookie, Daniel Norris, the Tigers now have enough depth in the starting pitching department to patch the holes if necessary. The Tigers will look to compete for the 2016 AL Central title, and Pelfrey’s acquisition could be that one extra, risky step that can be the clincher in succeeding when April comes around.


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