Tigers pitchers who could join Miguel Cabrera in the All-Star Game

CHICAGO — With the All-Star Game in Los Angeles just 10 days away, another Tiger will soon be joining him in the form of Miguel Cabrera, who is already a member of the “legendary selection” at the Midsummer Classic.

Detroit’s 8-0 loss to the White Sox Saturday afternoon at guaranteed rate field was a strong indication that Cabrera likely won’t be another hitter in the All-Star Game, but a player in the bullpen.

After a tough 2021 season for the Tigers’ bullpen — who finished the year with a 4.50 ERA and an average of 4.40 walks per nine innings — the unit has exceeded expectations this season and been surprisingly efficient.

“One of the things I appreciate about our team is the diversity of roles,” said manager AJ Hinch. “If you can sit a guy or two and still feel like you have a path to victory, that’s a pretty good sign. Our bullpen was great.”

As of Saturday’s start, Detroit possessed the third-lowest bullpen ERA this season at 3.04, and these relievers have a combined 4.1 wins over spares – tied with third-best in the majors.

Though Saturday’s bullpen performance didn’t hint at their season success — they allowed two runs and five hits in two innings before left fielder Kody Clemens added an inning — it’s an indicator that another All-Star is likely out of this one group will come.

“I think it’s going to come from the pitching department,” Hinch said. “You can choose in the bullpen. We have a number of guys who would be honored. So I would expect it to be an arm, but take your pick.”

Here are a few pitchers who could join Cabrera at this year’s Midsummer Classic.

Soto was the Tigers’ only All-Star selection last season and has the best chance of making it again. At last year’s break, the left-hander had a 3.00 ERA and seven saves.

His numbers this year make him an even better candidate. He’s ranked eighth in the majors this season with 17 saves and has only allowed one home run in 30 innings.

Soto also finds himself with an electric fastball, resulting in a high breath rate, landing him in the 73rd percentile in that division.

The southpaw has earned a save in his last four games, including Thursday’s 2-1 win over the White Sox, where he escaped a jam in the ninth inning.

“He’s got electrical stuff that’s hard to hit, even if he’s a little unpredictable,” Hinch said. “Sometimes being unpredictable can help you. I think his stuff allows him to escape some of those traffic jams.”

Fulmer has been used in a variety of situations this season and it has suited the 29-year-old well. He has served in hold situations and even ended games when Soto was unavailable.

The starter-turned-helper has thrived in this new role since becoming full-time bullpen-arm on May 5, 2021. He finished last season in relief with a 2.25 ERA in his last 44 appearances. That success has continued this season with a 1.97 ERA in 32 innings opened.

Fulmer’s versatility has helped him adapt to a new level of dominance.

“These guys love to pitch at the end of games, but they also love to pitch around each other,” Hinch said. “That’s probably the best thing for me, the quality that comes with acceptance.”

Other bullpen guns could also be fighting for the spot: Andrew Chafin – who has a 2.45 ERA in 30 appearances and Alex Lange – who has a 1.97 ERA in 36 appearances.

But with the way Skubal has started the year, with a 2.15 ERA in 10 starts, he should still be considered for an All-Star spot without a final suspension.

The numbers on him aren’t earth-shattering, and his most recent stretch – 7.80 ERA over six starts in June and July – may have put him out of the conversation for now.

But Friday’s performance of six strong innings against Chicago brought his ERA down to 3.99 and was a sign he could still be a worthy All-Star contender.

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