Duane Below is returning to the Tigers' organization on a minor league deal, according to James Schmehl of MLive.
Below was used as a starter through seven years in Detroit's system, developing into a borderline prospect. He made it to Detroit in 2011 and appeared in 41 games with three starts over the next two years. As a lefty, and with Drew Smyly's promotion to the rotation, he may be in the mix for the left-handed reliever spot(s). I typically like to see relievers with a history as a starting pitcher to have more time to develop command. Then when they move to the bullpen, they can crank up the velocity and drop their third pitch to get good results for one inning. But Duane Below does not have normal splits, and will not likely make a good LOOGY.
In 2013, righties hit Below for an OPS of only .601, but lefties had an easier time with an OPS of .802. This was mostly AAA innings, including time with Miami, before his detour to Korea. In 2012 he showed no difference with an opponent's OPS of .804 versus righties and .803 versus lefties, mostly in relief in Detroit.
Below's return is a reminder that Detroit is an excellent opportunity for a borderline starting pitcher. Teams rarely have the health among the starters that the Tigers had in 2013. They will likely need more starts in 2014 from pitchers who begin the year in Toledo, and I am sure Dave Dombrowski is making this point with minor league free agents as he staffs Toledo for 2014. Of course, Minnesota can argue that they have openings in the major league rotation.
Below is a Michigan native and pitched for Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor. Lake Michigan is a two year college which operates at very low cost. As I will soon be the father of three college-age kids at once, I am a big fan of Lake Michigan College. One son has it high on his college list, and anything that I can use to solidify that decision is helpful. Thus we embrace the return of Duane Below.
And while we are busy undoing previous moves, is Charlie Furbush available from Seattle? He signed yesterday for $750,000, and is death to lefties.