If this baseball season was the Daytona 500, the Detroit Tigers would be at the front of the pack, but the racers behind them would see them breaking down, and be looking for opportunities to pass for sure. The Tigers, like a car out front but running on slowly degenerating tires, have to get serious about finding a decent reliever, or they are going to get overtaken at the finish line.
Sure, thier 48-35 first-in-the-American-League-Central record is impressive, but they are not the same bunch that has seen so much success over the previous years. For one, Joe Nathan is showing his age, and has struggled this year. He currently has 17 saves, but his ERA is at 6.16. He has given up 34 hits in just over 30 innings. He is tied for second in the majors with 5 blown saves this season.
Detroit is exploring many options to fill the hole in their bullpen. They have taken a look at Huston Street in San Diego, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted recently that they are interested in Joaquin Benoit from the Padres, also.
Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the Tigers are interested in Joakim Soria and Jason Frasor of the Rangers and Chad Qualls of the Astros, among others. All three pitchers have experience in the closer role, and all three would help immensely in Detroit.
Qualls would fit in nicely, if the Tigers can work out a deal with the struggling Astros. The Astros race this season is so over they aren't even running on tires anymore, to use the Daytona analogy, so maybe they would be willing to make a deal. Qualls has a 1.84 ERA over 29.1 innings this season. He has 27 strikeouts over that time. The Astros are 36-52 right now.
The Rangers are not running much better at 37-49, so they may be willing to trade one of their relievers, too.
Who ever they choose, or whatever short term deal they can work, the Tigers need to make a decision and get someone in to help with the relief work. Their W-L record looks great now, but who's going to remember how they looked July when things are all done? if they don't do something, they will especially regret it in the postseason and will never reach the finish in first place.