Update: In addition to Whelan, minor league relievers Ian Kroll and Justin Miller will also join the Tigers in the coming days, according to John Wagner of the Toledo Blade. Kroll, 23, was acquired from the Nationals in last offseason’s Doug Fister trade. He owns a 4.97 ERA in 42 major league appearances this season and has thrown 3 2/3 shutout innings in Triple-A. Miller, 27, has a 3.48 ERA in 7 appearances for Detroit, he owns a 1.45 ERA in 37.1 Triple-A innings.
As star-studded as their rotation may be, the Tigers’ bullpen is in dire straights, and with newly-acquired reliever Joakim Soria headed to the disabled list, the club will promote minor league right-hander Kevin Whelan to the major league, reports James Schmehl of mlive.com
Whelan, 30, has enjoyed a strong 2014 campaign with Triple-A Toledo. Over 39.0 innings, he owns a 1.85 ERA with 20 saves and an 11.1 SO/9. His walk rate of 3.7 batters per nine is the lowest he has posted since the 2005, the year he was drafted. The former 4th round pick has been particularly hot of late, with fifteen strikeouts and no runs allowed over his last eleven innings.
This will mark Whelan’s second big league stint. His first one came with the Yankees in 2011, but ended after two games, and five walks in just an inning and two thirds.
Whelan relies primarily on a low-90’s fastball and a mid-80’s splitter, while occasionally mixing in a slider as his third offering.
It’s difficult to imagine that a 30 year old, career minor leaguer can provide a serious boon for a team with world-series hopes, but Detroit can use any help in relief it can get. The have the fifth worst bullpen ERA (4.38) in baseball, ahead of such non-contenders as the Astros, Rockies, Rangers, and White Sox. Their closer, Joe Nathan, has a 5.23 ERA, and Soria, who was supposed to be the bullpen savior, gave 6 runs in 6 appearances before hitting the DL.
Whelan will take Soria’s place on the major league roster, but Detroit will have to make another move to make room for the reliever on the 40-man roster.