Who Is That Man in the Detroit Tigers' Bullpen?

Nick BarnowskiCorrespondent IJuly 20, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 1:  Fu-Te Ni #59 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game on July 1, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Take a look at the bullpen for the 2009 Detroit Tigers.

You'll see some of the familiar names—Fernando Rodney, Brandon Lyon, Zach Miner, and Bobby Seay.

You should find a couple of new guys like Freddy Dolsi and rookie Ryan Perry.

Keep scrolling down the list.


No. 59? Ni?


The name you're looking at is Fu-Te Ni, and in his short stint with the Tigers, the Pingtung, Taiwan native has been one of the more consistent members of a rocky Detroit pen.

Ni got his chance to play in the big leagues when left-hander Nate Robertson went on the disabled list on June 29.

While he's only 26, it has been a relatively long journey to Major League Baseball.

In 2005, he was drafted by the Chinatrust Whales of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. Ni didn't pitch until 2007, and things were a little shaky.

His 12 losses led the league, but he did post a 3.53 ERA in 122.1 innings of work, striking out 125.

In 2008, Ni again had 12 losses but his ERA lowered to 3.34 while pitching 145.1. He also was the strikeout leader, fanning 132 batters.

The Whales folded after the 2008 season, and that gave Ni the chance to pitch in America.

He signed a minor league contract with the Toledo Mud Hens in the offseason, and pitched to the tune of a 2.60 ERA and holding hitters to only a .240 batting average against him.

When Ni pitched in his first game on June 29, he became only the sixth Taiwanese player (fourth pitcher) to play in MLB, joining Chin-Feng Chen, Chin-hui Taso, Chien-Ming Wang, Hong-Chih Kuo, and Chin-lung Hu.

How did he fare against his first batter? He only struck out slugger Jason Giambi.

Since then, Ni has appeared in seven more games, pitching nine innings. His ERA is 2.00 and his WHIP is 1.00. Opponents are hitting .267 against him and he has struck out nine, walking only one.

While Ni may only see limited action for the rest of the season, the left-hander will hopefully continue to be consistent coming out of the pen.

Which, right now, is exactly what this Tigers team needs.