With Twitter all abuzz about a trade between Seattle and Detroit that nets the Tigers starting righthander Doug Fister and right-handed reliever David Pauley, Tigers fans might be wondering a bit about the return. I'm here to discuss David Pauley, the relief piece Detroit is getting. Kurt will have a piece on Fister soon as well.
The 28-year-old Pauley was probably Seattle's backup plan for closer. Pauley features a good sinker, as well as a fastball, a change-up and a curveball. He's mainly a ground-ball guy with good control. He has experience in the rotation as well, having started 15 games last year. He was overexposed there, though, and his home run rate jumped to 13%.
This year, Pauley has a 2.15 ERA, with a 3.32 FIP and a 3.92 xFIP (controlling for home run rate). His strikeout rate is marginally up, at 5.63 (as compared to 5.06 last year), while his walk rate has dropped ever so slightly. His home run rate, however, has really plunged from 13% last year when Pauley was pitching out of the rotation to a Safeco-aided and unsustainable 4%. His groundball rate is okay, at 49%, but as a groundball inducing pitcher, it would be nice if that rate was a little higher.
Pauley's true talent level probably lies around his xFIP, but with his ability to pitch as either a one inning back of the bullpen type or as a long reliever (given his pedigree as a starter), that still has value, especially in a weak Detroit bullpen. He is an upgrade over several of the players the Tigers have tried to fit in the bullpen this year.