The contestants: Right-handers Shane Greene (closer), Joe Jimenez (set-up), Drew VerHagen, Buck Farmer, Victor Alcantara, Louis Coleman, Reed Garrett (Rule 5), Sandy Baez, Zac Reininger; left-handers Daniel Stumpf, Blaine Hardy, Matt Hall, Jose Fernandez.
The skinny: Twelve of those pitchers worked last season. And by the end, VerHagen, Farmer, Alcantara, Hardy and Stumpf, as well as Greene and Jimenez, had earned the trust of the coaching staff and seemingly solidified their spots. That’s a full bullpen back, which will put the heat on Garrett, Coleman and Baez, especially. The battle: VerHagen and Farmer are out of options, which means they would be subjected to waivers if they don’t make the squad. VerHagen already has been DFA’d once and re-signed. So has Coleman. Garrett is going to be given every chance to win a spot, just like Rule 5 outfielder Victor Reyes was last season. The Tigers like his power arm and believe if he gets his command issues solved, he can be a useful player.
The wild card: The Tigers scouts like Fernandez, whom they claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays. He will turn 26 later this month, and after having a solid stretch at Triple-A Buffalo last year and a strong showing in the Dominican Winter League, the Tigers feel he could be finding his niche. He features a mid-90s fastball and a sharp cutter.
The forecast: It’s going to be another revolving door. The closer role may