Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
The bullpen will be full of surprises, likely both good and bad in 2008. But as for one that I expect to truly step up, I'm counting on Yorman Bazardo. While he hasn't grabbed the attention of those this spring like Bautista, he's got a live arm, is just 23, and has already proven effective for the Tigers in both the minors and majors, in both starting and relieving roles. With the uncertainty surrounding Fernando Rodney and especially Joel Zumaya, the Tigers need someone to step up and be a shut down set up man, and Bazardo has the stuff to be that guy. He carried a 3.00 ERA last season for the Tigers as a reliever, had eight strikeouts with no walks, and had an average against under .200. Bazardo could quickly become a guy to be relied on in '08.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
You could literally pick just about any reliever in 2008, and any one of them could be considered a candidate for a surprise season. Cruceta and Bautista are huge unknowns. Can Seay and Byrdak repeat their success? Was Grilli's success away from Comerica Park a mirage? Can Zach Miner continue his late season surge? The questions are limitless. It comes down to two options for me; Yorman Bazardo, and Joel Zumaya. I'm going with Zumaya here, simply because there seems to be a pervasive belief that he's going to be a mid-season savior for this squad. I just don't see it. Shoulder surgery isn't a small thing, and not something to be taken lightly, not matter how things seem to be going with the rehab. There is very little precedence for this type of injury with a pitcher, let along a pitcher that has relied so heavily on a power arsenal. I struggle to see Zumaya returning to 2006 form this season (it may happen further down the road), and I think that might be a surprise to many within the Tiger fan base. He may come back and give some quality innings this year, but any expectations that he's going to be a difference maker for this club in 2008, seem like a wish and a prayer to me. Its not the good surprise one would expect when asked this question, but I think it will be a surprise all the same.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I'm going to go with Zach Miner. He did a solid job by posting a 3.02 ERA last year, and with Joel Zumaya out, the Tigers need someone to step up and be able to pitch the sixth and seventh innings in front of Fernando Rodney (provided his shoulder isn't serious and he misses regular season action) and Todd Jones. With Francisco Cruceta delayed do to visa issues, Miner and other candidates have the opportunity to separate themselves early on in camp to nail down the vacancies in the Tigers bullpen, and with the bullpen already an uncertainty, the Tigers need people to step up and show they want the ball in the late innings.
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