Ranking MLB’s Starting Rotations: 20-16

18. Detroit Tigers

  • 1)RHP Justin Verlander
  • 31 years old: 15-12, 4.54 ERA, 206 IP, 223 H, 104 ER, 18 HR, 65 BB, 159 K, 1.40 WHIP, 6.95 K/9, 2.84 BB/9, 4.19 xFIP, 3.3 WAR, 0.98 GB/FB, .317BABIP
    • 40.6 percent fly balls, 3,409 pitches, 2,165 strikes.
    • 92.3 MPH FB (55.8), 79.1 MPH CRV (15.9), 85.6 MPH SL (15.1), 83.2 MPH CH (13.4)
    • It seems like so long ago that Verlander was the Clayton Kershaw of baseball, winning MVP and Cy Young in the same year. To be exact, it was 2011, and that year, Justin won 24 games, led the league in wins, starts, innings, strikeouts, WHIP, hits per nine, and ERA+. After another strong 2012 season, Verlander has seen struggles, with two consecutive disappointing seasons, going 28-24 with a 3.99 ERA, and his only league-leading category was earned runs in 2014 (104). Much of the fate of the Tigers staff depends on which jersey free agent Max Scherzer sports in 2015, but they’ll need old Verlander back regardless. His velocity is down, he’s become more of a fly ball pitcher, and he’s missing less bats. They’ll need Cy Young Justin back. They have $140 million invested in him over the next five seasons.
  • 2)LHP David Price
  • 29 years old: 15-12, 3.26 ERA, 248.1 IP, 230 H, 90 ER, 25 HR, 38 BB, 271 K, 1.08 WHIP, 9.82 K/9, 1.38 BB/9, 2.76 xFIP, 6.1 WAR, 1.08 GB/FB, .306BABIP
    • 41.2 percent ground balls, 3,730 pitches, 2,600 strikes.
    • 93.2 MPH FB (57.0), 84.9 MPH CH (19.7), 86.9 MPH CUT (14.4), 79.4 MPH CRV (8.9)
    • After trading for Price midseason last year, the Tigers looked like they had one of the best rotations in the league, but (possibly) losing Scherzer and trading Porcello to Boston, and a declining Verlander have taken them down a notch – or two. Price is a free agent after the 2015 season, and remains one of the best pitchers in the league. In his career, he’s a tremendous 86-51 with a 3.21 ERA, so he’s set himself up for a nice payday that should get near what Jon Lester got with Chicago (6 years/$155 million). He’s the true best pitcher on the team for now.
  • 3)RHP Anibal Sanchez
  • 30 years old: 8-5, 3.43 ERA, 126 IP, 108 H, 48 ER, 4 HR, 30 BB, 102 K, 1.10 WHIP, 7.29 K/9, 2.14 BB/9, 3.56 xFIP, 3.4 WAR, 1.31 GB/FB, .277BABIP
    • 45.7 percent ground balls, 2,097 pitches, 1,360 strikes.
    • 92.1 MPH FB (47.3), 86.6 MPH SL (23.3), 84.7 MPH CH (21.3), 79.1 MPH CRV (8.2)
    • Signed through 2017 with Detroit, Sanchez missed some time last year, but is a nice middle-of-the-rotation option after Cy Young winners Verlander and Price. He’s an even better option after Scherzer, Verlander, Price, and ahead of Porcello. Obviously, the Tigers rotation will be looking much different next year. They’ll need a healthy Sanchez, who has won them 26 games and lost 19 since they acquired him in a trade that sent Sanchez to Detroit and youngsters like Jacob Turner, Rob Brantly, and Brian Flynn to the Marlins.
  • 4)RHP Shane Greene
  • 26 years old: 5-4, 3.78 ERA, 78.2 IP, 81 H, 33 ER, 8 HR, 29 BB, 81 K, 1.40 WHIP, 9.27 K/9, 3.32 BB/9, 3.40 xFIP, 1.2 WAR, 1.78 GB/FB, .330BABIP
    • 50.2 percent ground balls, 1,353 pitches, 857 strikes.
    • 93.1 MPH FB (51.7), 87.4 MPH CUT (26.2), 82.1 MPH SL (17.8), 86.7 MPH CH (4.3)
    • Brought up as a Yankee farmhand, he was drafted in 2009 in the 15th round. Brought up in April of last season, Greene had a strong rookie campaign, with a 3.78 ERA, 81 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings, and 1.78 GB/FB. It goes without saying at this point that much of what the Tigers rotation looks like is dependent on Max Scherzer. If Detroit retains Scherzer (which is very much up in the air), I would think Greene would be the odd man out, or Simon would become a trade piece.
  • 5)RHP Alfredo Simon
  • 33 years old: 15-10, 3.44 ERA, 196.1 IP, 181 H, 75 ER, 22 HR, 56 BB, 127 K, 1.21 WHIP, 5.27 K/9, 2.57 BB/9, 4.05 xFIP, 0.9 WAR, 1.57 GB/FB, .265BABIP
    • 48.2 percent ground balls, 3,014 pitches, 1,945 strikes.
    • 94.0 MPH FB (58.5), 84.4 MPH SPL (17.0), 88.3 MPH CUT (13.3), 77.4 MPH CRV (11.2)
    • Simon is a bit of a mystery. From 2008-11 with the Orioles, his performance left a lot to be desired, with only eight wins, 11 losses, an ERA over five, and 34 home runs in not even 185 innings. He was claimed off waivers in 2012 by the Reds, where he flourished in a bullpen role, posting a 9-6 record and 2.78 mark. In his first season as a full-time starter, in 2014, he won 15 games, only allowed 22 homers, and made the All Star game. We can all agree that Baltimore is more of a hitter’s park than Cincinnati, and that can be at least partially attributed to his success, as well as the fact that, from 2008-11, the AL East was much more terrifying than the 2012-14 NL Central. However, with three strong seasons under his belt, Simon is, at the least, a good number five starter in a pitching park in Detroit.

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