If you're looking for in house options to solve the Tigers' bullpen issues, don't ask Dotel. Or at least, don't count on the 39 year old journeyman reliever to be back any time soon, perhaps not at all this season.
Jason Beck at MLB.com reports that Dotel continues to be bothered by soreness in his right elbow, and his season is now in question. Beck quoted Tiger manager Jim Leyland
"I don't know what's going on with Dotel," manager Jim Leyland said. "I think he's just trying to see if he still has it. Hopefully he still has something left in the tank,"
Dotel was the Tigers' most effective relief pitcher in 2012, appearing in 57 games with an ERA of 3.57, an FIP of 2.30, and a WHIP of just 1.07. He struck out 9.62 batters per nine innings and walked fewer than two per nine frames. Dotel's FIP was the fourth lowest in the American League, and his WAR of 1.5 ranked seventh, both tops among Tiger relief pitchers.
Dotel holds the distinction of having played for more teams than any player in the history of major league baseball, suiting up for 13 different teams in his 13 seasons. His second season with the Tigers this year represents only the second time he has spent consecutive seasons with the same team in the past ten years. He has recorded over 100 saves in his career, a number surpassed only by Jose Valverde among Tiger pitchers.
The Tigers signed Dotel to a contract that paid him a salary of $ 3 million for the 2012 season with a team option worth $ 3.5 million for 2013, which was exercised by the club after the World Series last year. He was expected to be a major part of the Detroit bullpen in 2013.
Dotel has pitched only 4.2 innings this season, allowing 7 runs on ten hits and four walks to go with four strikeouts. He clearly wasn't himself when he was placed on the disabled list on April 23, retroactive to April 20. He was transferred from the 15 day DL to the 60 day DL on June 8, which cleared a spot on the 40 man roster for Jose Alvarez.
Dotel will turn 40 in November, so any serious injury could raise serious questions about his career. Neither Dotel nor the team has ruled out a return this season, but the inflammation in his right elbow is not going away. The Tigers could use an effective Dotel, but they can't count on him at this point.