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Tigers sign Zach McAllister, add to bullpen mix

MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The Tigers have seen plenty of Zach McAllister over the years, more than any other opponent. Now, they're no longer opponents.

As McAllister looked for a landing spot to rebound after being released by the Indians, the Tigers -- who have been relatively quiet in pursuing veteran pitchers off the wire this season -- jumped at the chance to add the 30-year-old right-hander. They reached an agreement on a one-year deal that will put McAllister in the Tigers' bullpen for the rest of the year.

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DETROIT -- The Tigers have seen plenty of Zach McAllister over the years, more than any other opponent. Now, they're no longer opponents.

As McAllister looked for a landing spot to rebound after being released by the Indians, the Tigers -- who have been relatively quiet in pursuing veteran pitchers off the wire this season -- jumped at the chance to add the 30-year-old right-hander. They reached an agreement on a one-year deal that will put McAllister in the Tigers' bullpen for the rest of the year.

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"Getting a feel for what they wanted to do and how they were going to use me, it's something I was really excited about, the opportunity that was here," McAllister said Friday afternoon. "And playing against these guys for so long, you know the organization. You know it's run extremely well in how they do things. To get the opportunity to come here and play, I was definitely excited for it."

Video: CLE@OAK: McAllister K's Pinder, leaves the bases full

McAllister pitched in 277 games over eight seasons in Cleveland, including 41 appearances and 41 2/3 innings this season before the Indians designated him for assignment last week. His 4.97 ERA and 4.50 FIP marked a notable downturn after a 2.61 ERA, 3.77 FIP and 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings last year.

His velocity and pitch usage rates have been relatively steady, including a fastball averaging 95 mph. But a bump in his home run rate and drop in strikeout rate, despite a career-low walk ratio, resulted in more damage.

"I was happy with how I was throwing before I got DFA'ed," McAllister said. "I got off to an extremely rough start early in the year and put myself in a hole, especially just the numbers. It looks a lot worse than it really is in my mind."

The improvement came too late in Cleveland, where McAllister was designated for assignment last Friday to make room for Andrew Miller's return from the disabled list.

"I kind of knew the end was coming at some point sooner than later. It just happened to come a lot sooner than I might have expected," McAllister said. "But I can't say enough good things about the Indians and what they did for me and the opportunities that they gave me. I made my debut with them and I was with them for a very long time.

"The hardest thing for me was the friendships. So many of us over there came up together. We were part of a losing team and part of a winning team. When you go through all that together with guys, you build a bond that's a little bit stronger than most. And so, saying goodbye to those guys was definitely tough."

Saying hello to the Tigers wasn't that hard after 353 plate appearances over 35 previous meetings. Though the Tigers are batting .294 off McAllister for his career, most of that damage came early in his career. They're batting just 17-for-80 (.213) with 10 walks and 26 strikeouts against him since 2016.

"He's a veteran with a big arm," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "When you face these guys for long enough like I have before here and there, watching him throw the baseball, you know that. We're looking for arms and arm strength in this organization, and he's definitely got that. This is a good signing. He's excited to be here, really excited, and it's a good thing for this organization to bring in another big arm and see if we can get him on track."

To make room for McAllister, the Tigers designated right-hander Jacob Turner for assignment, three days after he suffered a seven-run first inning in his first start as a Tiger since 2012. Artie Lewicki will replace Turner in the rotation and start next week against the White Sox.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Zach McAllister