Perry, Schlereth most underrated keys for the Tigers this season
And while I see the Tigers' bullpen being very strong at the back end with Joaquin Benoit setting up Jose Valverde, the earlier innings are more of a concern.
That is a lot of pressure on Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth.
Raw talent isn't a problem with either pitcher. Both are former first-round draft picks who throw exceptionally hard. Their off-speed pitches are good enough for their role. Perry's release point is from a high angle, and the downward plane of his pitches makes him even more difficult to hit.
The issue is command of the baseball. His last 14 appearances in 2010, long after the pennant pressure had gone, Perry walked just two hitters in 16 innings. He needs to do that when the games count during the spring and summer months.
Schlereth has enormous potential as well. How many left-handers throw that hard? But he just walks too many hitters, not only in the major leagues, but did so in the minor leagues, too, which he was able to get away with because the hitters are aren't nearly as gifted.
There's been a tendency by both Perry and Schlereth to come unglued, usually just about the time they have pitched well enough to be depended upon.
It would help the Tigers enormously if they have matured in that regard.
Both were big-time college pitchers. Each has an exceptional arm. Both are entering their mid-20s (Perry is 24, Schlereth will pitch most of this season at 25).
They are the most underrated "X" factor for the Tigers this coming season.