The Miami Marlins have been better than anyone could have expected this year. Entering the All-Star break — a time reserved for selling off their pieces the past few years — the Marlins were only three games out of the National League Wild Card and planted themselves in a position to look at the market as potential buyers. Since then, the rest of the league has gotten its collective act together and the Marlins have lost some traction.
The Detroit Tigers, on the other hand, have visions of a deep playoff run. Their bullpen has been a major cause of concern this year, coming into today with the second worst batting average against (BAA) (.271), the fourth worst WHIP (1.43), and the fifth worst ERA (4.37) in all of baseball. Joe Nathan has been borderline awful and whichever left-handed reliever takes the mound on any given night has been Phil Coke-like, including Phil Coke.
General manager Dave Dombrowski made his first move toward shoring up the bullpen on Wednesday, trading for Texas closer Joakim Soria. Before that, the Tigers had been linked to every relief pitcher available. Sexy names like Joaquin Benoit, Jonathan Papelbon, and Steve Cishek have been suggested, but with the addition of Soria, it appears as though they may have started to fulfill their biggest need. But even with Soria, the Tigers still lack one essential weapon.
The Tigers' current left-handed, late-inning arms are only being used because there are no other options. Outside of Blaine Hardy, who has actually been fairly productive in his 16.1 innings of work, Phil Coke and Ian Krol have pitched to a combined 4.71 ERA, 4.93 FIP, and a minus 0.4 wins above replacement. Their .298 combined BAA would be fifth on the team, just above the offensive output of Ian Kinsler.
A viable left-handed pitcher would allow the Tigers to send Krol down to the minors get some more seasoning, and if they absolutely must hold on to Coke, he can be designated to mop-up situations only.
Enter Mike Dunn.
Dunn is little-known outside of Miami, but he has been quietly putting together his second-consecutive solid season. Against left-handed hitters this year, Dunn has allowed a minuscule .300 wOBA to go along with 15 strikeouts in 17⅓ innings, a .217 batting average against, and a 3.68 ERA. Journey back to 2013 and the stats look even better, including an allowed .252 wOBA, 36 strikeouts in 33 innings, a .189 BAA, and a 1.64 ERA. In short, he's shut down lefties.
He would be needed for little more than that if Soria and Joba Chamberlain do what they are supposed to do.
Dunn, who is currently in his first year of arbitration, is making a team-friendly $1.4 million this year. He may also be the more attractive option for the Marlins to move rather than risking the wrath of Giancarlo Stanton.
(tl;dr) Mike Dunn is better than Coke or Krol. Let's get him.