Tigers bullpen woes rear ugly head

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Baltimore — Mark Lowe is a better pitcher than he’s shown thus far with the Tigers.

He knows that, his manager knows that, the back of his baseball card validates that.

But these are dark days for the veteran right-handed setup man.

“I didn’t do my job,” he said, dejectedly after giving up his second grand slam home run in the span of six days Saturday night.

Things have gone south quickly for Lowe since he allowed two home runs against Texas last Sunday, including a grand slam to former Tiger Bobby Wilson.

In his five appearances before that game, he’d pitched 4.1 scoreless and hitless innings in five outings.

From Sunday until last night, when he gave up a grand slam to Baltimore’s Jonathan Schoop, he’s allowed nine runs and seven hits, including four home runs, in 2.2 innings in this last five outings.

“He’s out of whack right now, mechanically,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “He looked a lot more crisp earlier in the season. He will be fine. He will work through this.”

Lowe said he has been trying to modify his mechanics recently, but his mechanics weren’t the issue in the eighth inning Saturday.

“I left a slider over the middle of the plate (to Schoop),” he said. “I have to sit back and reevaluate a lot of things. I need to make some adjustments to start putting good games together again.”

Lowe and Justin Wilson were acquired in the off season, along with closer Francisco Rodriguez, to shore up the back end of the Tigers bullpen. Lowe’s ERA is 8.76 and Wilson’s is 4.50.

Rodriguez, who’s thrown just two innings since May 3, has a 4.63 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP.

After 12 scoreless appearances to start the season, Wilson has allowed seven runs and nine hits in his last three innings.

Ausmus was asked if was considering reconfiguring the back end of the bullpen.

“Who would you put back there,” he said.

Drew VerHagen has pitched late in games, but he’s been inconsistent (6.85 ERA, 1.82 WHIP). Alex Wilson has pitched late in games, too, but he was not available Saturday night. Left-hander Kyle Ryan has been the most consistent option (2.87 ERA, 1.34 WHIP in 15.2 innings).

“We are going to find a way to grind it out and get over this,” Lowe said.

Twitter @cmccosky