DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers claimed a pitcher off waivers who had strong minor league stats before the COVID shutdown and has struggled since.
Braden Bristo, a 28-year-old righty reliever, was designated for assignment by the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday, April 29, and claimed by the Tigers on Monday.
In three minor-league seasons from 2017-2019, Bristo posted a 2.44 ERA and 1.16 WHIP across 151 innings in the lower minors. He struck out 183 batters and walked 55.
Bristo struggled to regain his footing after the 2020 minor-league season was canceled due to COVID, walking 30 batters in 50 innings during his first taste of Triple-A in 2021. He finished the season with a 4.86 ERA and 1.40 WHIP, though he did record 61 strikeouts.
The struggles continued into last season, as another high walk rate elevated Bristo’s ERA and WHIP. He struck out 64 batters in 53.1 innings, but the overall numbers weren’t pretty.
This year, he was off to a shaky start in Triple-A before getting called up to Tampa Bay in mid-April. He retired nine of the 10 batters he faced in his debut, striking out four and walking one.
Since that outing, he’s allowed seven earned runs across four innings in Triple-A.
The Tigers need plenty of bullpen help, and pitching coach Chris Fetter has had some success with these types of reclamation projects. He’ll try to recapture the form Bristo showed a few years ago.
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Tigers moved Austin Meadows to the 60-day injured list. Meadows has been out since mid-April due to a battle with mental health.