Mesa Must Step Up in Zumaya's Absence

The Tigers' signing of Jose Mesa this offseason was viewed as an insurance policy in case their trio of backend relievers, Fernando Rodney, Joel Zumaya or Todd Jones went down with injury, and wouldn't you know it? It happened.

With Zumaya now expected to miss three months of the season, it's time to see if the signing of the 40 year old Mesa turns out to be a mistake, or yet another brilliant move by Dave Dombroski.

This season has already been difficult for Mesa who, between making his first trip to the disabled trip since 1991 and holding an ERA of 11.57, has not pitched anywhere near the level fans have become accustomed to seeing during his 19 year career.

With the injury to Zumaya, Mesa now has the opportunity to prove he still has plenty of innings left in his arm, and because of Zumaya's absence, the extra innings should help Mesa work out the kinks of his early season struggles. With a more consistent workload, Mesa will in all likelihood regain the stuff that has made him one of the top relievers in game for the better part of his career.

Although the veteran Mesa is nowhere near the presence on the mound that the flame-throwing Zumaya is right now, he is still a valuable part of the Tigers, especially in injury situations like this. He could have filled in the closer slot if Jones would have gotten hurt, as he has saved 35 or more games five times, and can now use his experience to fill in for Zumaya in the innings leading up to the ninth.

Earlier in the season when the hitters were struggling, the players talked about track records, saying that if someone had hit in the past, that means they will probably hit this season. The same can be said about pitching, and with Mesa's track record it's a safe bet to say that Tigers won't suffer a big drop off with him on the hill.

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