Every weekday between now and mid-November, we'll be looking closer at a Tigers player. For more information on the series, including a schedule, please check this post out.
Eddie Bonine dipped is toe in the major leagues in 2007, bounced back and forth between Detroit and Toledo a few times in 2008 and finally settled in for a long stay in 2009. Almost a prototypical mop-up pitcher, Bonine just wasn't quite good enough to stick around in a major league rotation. He allows a few too many baserunners. He doesn't strike out many. However, a knuckleballer, he is perfectly capable of going several innings when the starter falters in order to save the bullpen for another day. He even kept his ERA acceptable at 4.63 this year.
He's the kind of player a team can always use but he also falls into a group large enough to keep him from having great career security from year to year. In fact, his wins above replacement is actually -0.1. He is almost the definition of a replacement player. A free agent, he may have pitched his last innings in a Tigers uniform. On the other hand, he could end up signing a minor league deal and earning his way back to Detroit.
I'll give him a C.
Well, you get what you see, or you see what you get there.
Fangraphs.com reports Bonine's changeup gets above-average results. However, his knuckleball and other pitches are all below average. The fastball is worth about -1.66 runs per 100 pitches, so it's nothing too dramatic. A few other interesting notes: Batters don't like to swing at his pitches out of the zone, and his swinging strike rate is only 4.8%.
One thing that helps Bonine is that he is able to get batters to hit the ball on the ground about half the time.
What 2010 tells us about 2011:
Well, it's hard to say really given his arsenal of pitches. But given his past results have resulted in ERAs in the mid-4s, it's probably a safe bet that Bonine could go a season between 4.50 and 5.00 again. Of course he could escalate above 5.00 too. I think 4.50 is best case.
I don't think Bonine has seen his last inning in the MLB in any case. I wouldn't want to see him in the late innings, but I could see him continuing in a swing/mop-up role with some club.