Prior to the All-Star break, Mark Lowe was used as a setup man and picked up eight holds. However, he was rendered useless when it came to retiring batters and limiting runs as he turned in a 1.85 WHIP and 10.05 ERA over the season's first half. Then, just when it appeared Lowe had nothing to offer, he showed a drastic improvement. In the months following, he chucked for a 3.05 ERA and held batters to a .197 batting average. Despite a resurgent second half, Lowe never earned the chance to pitch in high-leverage scenarios and didn't record another hold. This came courtesy of the one aspect of his game that remained consistent over the year, that being his propensity for walking batters. Of the batters he faced, nearly 10 percent reached base via the walk. Although there was a glimmer of hope, Lowe has never shown the ability to consistently retire hitters. Because of this, he carries little fantasy value and will likely be used at the back end of the bullpen in 2017.
After a disastrous 2016 campaign, the Tigers are hoping a mechanic adjustment and the time off help Lowe get back on track, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports. Lowe signed a two-year deal with Detroit after posting a 1.96 ERA and 1.05 WHIP across 55 innings in 2015. But he saw his ERA balloon to 7.11 and his WHIP jump to 1.58 in his first season with the Tigers. Lowe's fastball and slider both lost velocity, and he acknowledged that he tinkered with his approach throughout the season without much success. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Lowe told him he "found something mechanically" over the offseason, making Ausmus optimistic that Lowe can rebound. His career stats outside of 2015, however, make that year look like an outlier. Expect better results this year, but don't expect a sub-2.00 ERA again.
Lowe has a 7.11 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 49.1 innings of relief this season. Bullpen arms swing hot to cold season-to-season, but Lowe's 2016 is about as cold as they come. His 2015 excellence is looking more and more like an anomaly, so there's little reason to have and hold him this season or even next.
Lowe's struggles continued through June and his ERA now stands at 10.44. His WHIP sits at 1.88. Lowe's game has fallen apart. He has allowed 16 earned runs in his last 7.2 innings; that includes three home runs in his last 3.0 innings of work. Relievers are a dime-a-dozen and they're largely interchangeable from year to year. Lowe's struggles illustrate that pretty clearly.
Lowe is now 1-3 with a 7.79 ERA after giving up a two run walk-off home run in Tuesday's loss to the Angels. May was not kind to Lowe, as he gave up 12 runs (all earned) and five home runs in just 8.2 innings. Coming off a fantastic season where he had a 1.96 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, his tremendous struggles are unsettling, especially to the Tigers, who only have one reliever with an ERA below 3.20 among pitchers with more than 10 innings to their name, that being Buck Farmer. Lowe's fastball velocity is also troublesome. At 92.2 miles per hour, it's 3.3 miles per hour slower than it'd been in 2015.
Lowe was lit up for five runs on three hits and a walk over 0.2 innings in Sunday's 8-3 loss to the Rangers. Lowe entered with the game tied 2-2, but was tagged with the loss after serving up a grand slam to Bobby Wilson and then giving up a solo shot to Delino DeShields. The poor outing torpedoed Lowe's ERA for the season, but he still looks to be one of the Tigers' most trusted setup men in front of closer Francisco Rodriguez.