Detroit Tigers add Michael Lorenzen and bring back Matthew Boyd


The Detroit Tigers sign two pitchers in one day.

The Detroit Tigers have had a relatively quiet offseason, but today they officially added two pitchers to their roster: Michael Lorenzen and Matthew Boyd.

The Boyd signing was not shocking. News of him agreeing to terms with the Tigers broke almost two weeks ago. But then Wednesday evening FanSided’s Robert Murray broke the Lorenzen deal:

Ken Rosenthal soon added the deal was for one year $8.5 million, with incentives possibly pushing it to $10 million.

Lorenzen provides some depth and versatility for the Detroit Tigers, but let’s take a closer look at what the Tigers are getting.

Who is Michael Lorenzen?

The Cincinnati Reds used the 38th pick in the 2013 draft to take Michael Lorenzen out of Cal-State Fullerton. He was a decorated two-way player for the Titans, serving as their regular center fielder and pitching in over 40 games. Scouts thought he was an excellent defender with a huge arm and power potential. But doubts about his hit tool pointed him to the mound as a professional.

The Reds developed Lorenzen as a starter, and kept him in that role during his 2015 rookie season. But he was knocked around to the tune of a 5.40 ERA over 113 innings, and Cincinnati moved him to relief.

Lorenzen excelled in the bullpen. He posted a 2.88 ERA over 50 innings in 2016, and from 2017-2019 he was one of the most dependable relievers in baseball. He threw 233.2 innings, the third most by a reliever during that time, and compiled a 3.54 ERA.

Injury woes limited Lorenzen to just 29 innings in 2021. But the Los Angeles Angels still signed him to a one-year deal, and let him be a starter again. He did run into more shoulder trouble, costing him most of July and August, but he finished the season with a 4.24 ERA in 18 starts, covering 97.2 innings.

Despite owning a big fastball that has averaged 96 MPH for his career, Lorenzen has succeeded by using a kitchen sink approach. Last year he threw five different pitches at least 180 times. When he’s at his best he’s limiting hard contact with his sinker, slider, and changeup.

That sort of horizontal movement profile meshes well with what Chris Fetter and the Tigers staff have been doing. The plan is for Lorenzen to start, and he could be a solid back-end arm for them. But it’s also nice to have the bullpen as a fallback option.

Happy to return to Detroit

The Tigers look at the Matthew Boyd signing as more than just adding depth. They felt the team needed more veteran leadership.

The rotation heading into 2023 has Eduardo Rodriguez, Spencer Turnbull, and now Lorenzen as its only veterans. And even then, Turnbull has fewer than 300 innings in the big leagues. Rodriguez’s odd departure from the team in 2022 may make it hard for him to be a leader.

The rest of the potential starters are extremely inexperienced. Matt Manning has just under 150 innings pitched in his career. Beau Brieske has thrown fewer than 100 innings above the Double-A level. Ditto Alex Faedo and Joey Wentz.

The next wave of Detroit Tigers

The next core of young starters Harris is referring to likely includes Reese Olson, who should begin the season in Toledo and is on the 40-man roster. Then there’s recent Rule 5 pick Mason Englert, who must remain on the big-league roster in order to stay in the organization. Another pitcher Tigers fans could see next summer is Wilmer Flores, who is ranked 3rd on the Detroit Tigers Top 30 MLB Pipeline prospects.

Back to Boyd, he spoke to the media today about the opportunity to pitch in Detroit again.

“I understand what Detroit Tigers baseball means to the Tigers’ faithful… I’m grateful that it worked out and I’m excited to wear the Old English D again. I feel like there is unfinished business here.”

While the changes to his pitching arsenal are just small sample sizes this season, Harris, who signed Boyd to the Giants, noted the recent developments he made.

“Matt is not the same pitcher he was when he was last here,” Harris said. “He accomplished a lot of great things here, but there are some elements of his game that he’s developed and improved since he left here. I worked with him firsthand in San Francisco and I think he flashed some of those adjustments when he pitched in Seattle.

Detroit made a point to hire more staff like assistant pitching coach Robin Lund, who had success with pitchers he developed at the University of Iowa. Next, it’s important to note the work Chris Fetter and Juan Nieves have done with players like Garrett Hill and Joe Jimenez. 

These moves may not be the big free agent splashes fans are looking for. But if the Tigers can get at least 150 innings or more out of Boyd or Lorenzen, it would reverse a trend.

The last free agent pitcher the Tigers signed who threw over 100 innings and made at least 20 starts in his first year with the team was Mike Fiers in 2018. He pitched 119 innings and started in 21 games for Detroit before he was traded to Oakland.

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