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Tigers don't expect to add another bullpen arm before waiver deadline

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By acquiring David Price in a three-way trade on Thursday, the Tigers not only shored up their starting rotation, but gave the bullpen a better chance to recover.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

DETROIT — Now that the non-waiver trading deadline has passed, the Tigers have a full rotation of starting pitchers. The acquisition of relief pitcher Joakim Soria from the Texas Rangers on July 23 — which was intended to lock down the bullpen and guard against any more instability — has been off to a bit of a shaky start so far, but it's only been a couple of outings and the Tigers believe he'll settle in nicely.

While that goes on and Joe Nathan works out the kinks in the ninth inning, there are still questions surrounding the bullpen's stability and whether the flux of inconsistency will continue for the rest of the season.

Beyond that, the question is whether Tigers president/GM Dave Dombrowski should acquire yet another bullpen arm before the waiver deadline takes place on Aug. 31. If you are holding out hope for that option though, Dombrowski's words should give you caution.

"I'd be very surprised if the type of player we'd be looking for would be available after the waiver date," Dombrowski said. "I just don't see it happening."

While the option was explored leading up to the non-waiver deadline, the focus was to have a starting rotation that could go deep into games so the necessity of a bullpen is a second thought rather than something to be concerned with on a daily basis.

In addition, there aren't many relievers out there that would fit into the Tigers' specific needs. With expanded rosters set to take place in less than a month, Dombrowski said the odds of the Tigers adding an arm to the bullpen is highly unlikely.

"We weren't looking to just trying to get a player," Dombrowski said. "We're talking about getting an upgrade and there's not a lot of those guys that were available."

Getting David Price may have come at a high cost — major league starters Austin Jackson and Drew Smyly as well as a minor league shortstop — but consistency is something the Tigers need right now. Not only does Price help there, he gives the Tigers a better chance come October.

"For now, winning right now, David (Price) gives us a better chance to win and that's how we're looking at it," Dombrowski said. "Getting the opportunity to add a guy like David Price doesn't come along very often. He's that good."

In the meantime, the goal for the bullpen remains the same; Soria will pitch the seventh inning when necessary, Chamberlain remains the dependable arm in the eighth, and ideally Nathan will lock down the ninth.

In the event that someone from the starting rotation is unable to pitch deep enough into a game, the remaining assortment of relievers would step into that role. While that's been the plan all along, it's been easier said than done so far.