The Tigers have done a solid job of filling holes on a limited budget this offseason. With so much money tied up to their stars, the Tigers will need to be smart about how they build the rest of their roster. Sometimes, this involves signing players that can fill multiple roles for the team. One player that fills a current need while providing some versatility could be Tom Gorzelanny, a left-handed pitcher who played for the Milwaukee Brewers last season. Gorzelanny has spent his entire career in the National League, but would he be interested in a transition to the AL if the Tigers came calling?
*2015 Steamer projection
Who is he?
Gorzelanny is a 32 year old left-hander who was selected in the second round of the 2003 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He made his MLB debut in 2005 as a 23 year old and spent parts of five seasons with the Pirates. He was 14-10 with a 3.88 ERA in 201 2/3 innings in 2007, resulting in a career-best 2.8 WAR. Since then, Gorzelanny has spent time with four different organizations as a swingman, making 77 starts in 213 appearances. Gorzelanny had shoulder surgery in December of 2013, but returned in June 2014. He allowed just two earned runs in 21 innings last season while striking out 23 batters to eight walks.
Why should we care?
While Gorzelanny's career numbers don't look all that special, he has much better splits as a reliever. In 138 career appearances out of the bullpen, Gorzelanny has a 2.88 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 2.05 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He strikes out over eight batters per nine innings as a reliever, and has a 3.13 ERA over the past three seasons while primarily serving as a reliever.
Gorzelanny's experience as a starter and splits against left-handed hitters make him an interesting pick up. He has limited lefty batters to hitting just .231/.301/.360 in his career with a 2.91 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He served in a LOOGY role at times for the Brewers last season, but could just as easily come in and pitch two or three innings as a long reliever. The Tigers could also look to someone like Kyle Ryan for filling this role, but Gorzelanny's experience provides a big edge over Ryan, who has only ever been a starter.
Why should we stay away?
The biggest blemish on Gorzelanny's record is the shoulder surgery he had in 2013. While it wasn't anything too serious -- he just had a debridement, or "clean up" procedure -- it still caused him to miss two months of the season. Gorzelanny has a history of shoulder trouble, and his fastball velocity dropped in 2014. He also did not work any back-to-back outings after the All-Star break, a slightly ominous sign.
Will he end up in Detroit?
It would be nice to see the Tigers take a flyer on a guy like Gorzelanny, but we probably won't know anything more until mid-January or later. If the Tigers sign anyone, it will be a guy that has slipped through the cracks that they can get on a cheap deal. Could Gorzelanny be that guy? It's possible, and the Tigers haven't hesitated to pick up guys who have had shoulder problems in the past.