Why The Detroit Tigers Need To Look For Starting Pitching Depth


In 2014, the Detroit Tigers had one of the best starting rotations in the majors. With a core of Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, David Price, and Rick Porcello, Tigers fans were treated to a quality start more times than not.

Unfortunately for the Tigers and their fans, the starting rotation has a lot of question marks going into the 2015 season.

They need to come to terms with 2013 Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. They need to decide whether to let him walk or resign him for the 2015 season.

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Even if they do sign Max Scherzer to a long-term deal the rest of the starting rotation still has questions.

Justin Verlander took a huge step back after having core surgery last offseason. How will he bounce back? He had minor shoulder problems during the 2014 season and after a 4.54 ERA in the 2014 campaign he’s already two years removed from his dominant 2012 season. Though his struggles in 2013 were greatly exaggerated, the Tigers will need the Verlander of old to solidify this starting rotation in 2015.

What about Rick Porcello? Porcello broke out in a big way with a 3.43 ERA in 2014. He broke the 200 IP plateau for the first time in his career. He seems to have taken a big step forward in his development. That talent everyone had hoped for shined finally in 2014. But can he repeat that? He showed signs of fatigue in his last few starts of the season with the new workload. The Tigers will have to monitor his inning next year just in case.

Then there’s Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez was the 2013 AL ERA king after signing a 5 year/$80 million before the 2013 season. He had another solid season with a 3.43 ERA in 2014.

But just like Porcello, Sanchez has his own problems. He’s had injury problems the last two years and has never eclipsed 200 IP in his career. Sanchez is a very good pitcher but the Tigers are going to need a healthy Sanchez if they want to compete.

May 11, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Robbie Ray (38) pitches in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

And finally, what about the 5th starter spot? The Tigers brought up multiple rookies with a varying level of success. Prized prospect Robbie Ray struggled in limited appearances. Buck Farmer wasn’t much better. Drew VerHagen wasn’t terrible but also got injured. Kyle Lobstein and Kyle Ryan showed some promise, albeit in limited opportunities. The rookie starters are not looking too promising.

The Tigers have many questions regarding their strong starting rotation. The only lock is now-ace David Price, who will also become a free agent after the 2015 season.

In the past, the Tigers have been pretty lucky in terms of injuries to their starting rotation. But injuries are never ones that you can expect. If one of the starters goes down with an injury, they will have to deal with two rookies in the starting rotation at the same time. With how they pitched last year they’re going to need to look for better solutions in the very near future.

Obviously, the Tigers have other problems they must address. They have outfield and bullpen issues to deal with. However, without any attention to the starting rotation an injury or two can turn the 2015 season really, really sour.

Now, your thoughts. Should the Detroit Tigers go after starting pitching depth? Should they look at a 5th starter? Or should they sign a few veterans to Minor League contracts just in case? Whatever your answer, the Tigers are going to need some kind of pitching whether it be in the starting rotation of the bullpen.