Sporting a bit of a mullet and a lot of mustache, Jones was known for his circuitous path to a save, usually giving up a walk and a hit before retiring the side. After coming up with the Houston Astros in 1994, he showed significant potential, going 5-2 with a 2.72 ERA while setting the table for closer John Hudek. When Hudek went down with an arm injury the following year, Jones stepped up with 15 saves, splitting stopper responsibilities with Mike Henneman. Though the mustachioed reliever did an adequate job with 17 saves the following year, his ERA rose to an undesirable 4.40. With hot-throwing prospect Billy Wagner waiting for a shot with Houston, the Astros involved Jones in a monster deal to Detroit that December to acquire Brad Ausmus, Jose Lima, and Daryle Ward.
Jones became the go-to reliever in Motown, averaging just under 33 saves for four years. But despite tying Derek Lowe for the league lead with 42 saves in 2000, Jones yielded a high number of hits and walks, prompting the Tigers to prepare young Mark Fidrych look-alike Matt Anderson for the role. In 2001, amidst six blown saves and an opponent batting average of .303, Jones lost his role to Anderson and became the set-up man. That July, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins for Mark Redman, as the land of 10,000 lakes experienced a rare playoff run.