Detroit – The Tigers saw first-hand how good right-handed pitcher Zack Godley can be when he scattered four hits over seven innings and struck out six in a 7-1 loss in Arizona back on May 10, 2017, and he stayed on their radar, winning 15 games for the Diamondbacks in 2018.
So, after things fell apart for him last season and he was designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks and later cast away by the Blue Jays, he registered as a possible bounce-back candidate for 2020.
On Friday, the Tigers and Godley agreed on a minor-league deal with an invitation to big-league camp. The deal, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, will pay him $1.5 million, with another $1.5 million in incentives, if he makes the big-league club. The incentives are based on appearances and innings pitched, and he has a March 23 opt-out.
Godley, who will turn 30 on April 21, made 33 appearances the last two seasons and has 81 big-league starts. His ERA and WHIP have been on the climb since he first carved a spot on the Diamondbacks rotation with a 3.37 ERA and a 1.1 WHIP in 25 starts in 2017.
Although he won the 15 games in 2018, his ERA and WHIP jumped to 4.74 and 1.4 and he led baseball in hit batsmen (12) and wild pitches (17).
He started the season in the rotation last year, but was dispatched to the bullpen after nine starts, with his ERA approaching 7.0. He was DFA’d in August and finished the season with the Blue Jays, who did not tender him a contract after the season.
His best pitch is a curveball, which he throws off an 89-90 mph sinker. He also throws a cutter, change-up and four-seam fastball. The sinker was the pitch that failed him last season. According to Statcast, opponents hit .326 and slugged .620 off the sinker. Nine of the 14 home runs Godley gave up were off the sinker.
Godley joins a growing group of pitchers fighting for one of the final rotation spots after Matthew Boyd, Spencer Turnbull, Daniel Norris and Jordan Zimmermann. The group includes right-handers Dario Agrazal, Kyle Funkhouser, Beau Burrows and Shao-Ching Chiang, and lefties Tyler Alexander and Matt Hall.
The Tigers are believed to still be shopping for another veteran starting pitcher.