Detroit Tigers sign right-hander Michael Lorenzen to one-year, $8.5 million contract

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Tigers have signed right-hander Michael Lorenzen to a one-year, $8.5 million contract, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.

Lorenzen, who can make an additional $1.5 million in performance bonuses, plans to be a starting pitcher. He pitched for the Los Angeles Angels last season, logging a 4.24 ERA with 44 walks and 85 strikeouts over 97⅔ innings in 18 starts.

The eight-year MLB veteran turns 31 in January. The Tigers have not confirmed the signing, which is pending a physical. Once the deal becomes official, the Tigers’ 40-man roster will be full.

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Lorenzen, the No. 38 overall pick in the 2013 draft, throws six pitches: changeup (22.3% last season), four-seam fastball (22.2%), two-seam fastball (21.8%), slider (20.6%), cutter (10.9%) and curveball (2.1%).

His fastball averaged 94.6 mph.

He began his career as a starting pitcher with the Reds in 2015 but primarily worked out of the bullpen from 2016-21. He signed a one-year, $7 million contract with the Angels and returned to the rotation in 2022.

Lorenzen, a high spin rate, low-extension pitcher, failed to showcase durability as a starter in his one-year stint, suffering a right shoulder strain in early July and missing nine weeks, but he returned in September and dominated in his final five starts. He went 2-0, pitched more at least five innings in every start and recorded a 2.36 ERA with 14 walks and 30 strikeouts over 26⅔ innings.

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In September, Lorenzen readjusted his mechanics and threw his changeup a whopping 30.4% of the time. The pitch generated a 39.5% swing-and-miss rate in September, and opponents hit .063 with 14 strikeouts against his best offering.

Lorenzen found success with his changeup across the entire season, as opponents hit .154 with 30 strikeouts and a 38% swing-and-miss rate. His slider, which opponents hit .169 against, had a 35.2% whiff rate.

During the final month, he flashed his four-seamer and changeup to left-handed hitters and his four-seamer and slider to right-handed hitters. He rarely used his sinker, curveball and cutter.

The biggest concern? Walks.

Lorenzen has a career 9.8% walk rate, compared to a 20.1% strikeout rate, and has posted double-digit walk rates in each of the past three seasons. His 10.7% walk rate last season ranked 130th among 134 starting pitchers with at least 90 innings.

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He also has extensive experience as a pinch-hitter from his time in the National League from 2015-21. With the Reds, the right-handed hitter slashed .233/.282/.429 in 147 plate appearances.

If needed, Lorenzen could play outfield or pinch-hit for the Tigers.

The Tigers now have five starting pitchers seemingly slated for their Opening Day roster: Lorenzen, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, lefty Matthew Boyd, right-hander Spencer Turnbull and righty Matt Manning. Other potential starters include lefty Joey Wentz, righty Beau Brieske and righty Alex Faedo.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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