Detroit Tigers State Of The Union 2014 – Part 2: The Pitchers

Joe Nathan is still one of the best closers the game of baseball has ever seen. The 39 year old came off one of his best seasons, registering a WHIP of .90 and an ERA of 1.33 amidst his 43 Saves and 74 SO.  Nathan will also bring plenty of playoff experience to Detroit. Lets just hope if the Tigers make it back to the playoffs, that he can improve in his career postseason ERA of 9.00 in 9 IP.  Nathan was inked to a 2 YR Deal this winter, worth $20 MIL, with a Team Option of $10 MIL for 2016.  This doesn't end all of the teams Relief woes, but it gives them the best Closer that was on the Free Agent Market.

Joe Nathan is still one of the best closers the game of baseball has ever seen. The 39 year old came off one of his best seasons, registering a WHIP of .90 and an ERA of 1.33 amidst his 43 Saves and 74 SO. Nathan will also bring plenty of playoff experience to Detroit. Lets just hope if the Tigers make it back to the playoffs, that he can improve in his career postseason ERA of 9.00 in 9 IP. Nathan was inked to a 2 YR Deal this winter, worth $20 MIL, with a Team Option of $10 MIL for 2016. This doesn’t end all of the teams Relief woes, but it gives them the best Closer that was on the Free Agent Market.

Hunter Stokes (Chief Writer): 

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Here we go again.  Bruce Rondon is out for the year with Tommy John Surgery, Joba Chamberlain is throwing at Minor Leaguer’s, and Anibal Sanchez is hurting.

No team had better Starting Pitching in the game of baseball than the Tigers in 2014, while I love their top 3 Starters again, I am worried about their depth in the rotation at the back end.

The Bullpen is a lot better at the Closer’s position with Joe Nathan.

Gone are Jose Veras, underrated Joaquin Benoit, Drew Smyly moves to the Rotation,  and the ‘human dumpster fire’ Jose Valverde is also long removed from the relief core.

Added to the bringing in Nathan, the team also signed Chamberlain for 1 year, and added Ian Krol through the Doug Fister trade.

Among several returnees are Luke Putkonen, Phil Coke, Al Alburquerque, Jose Ortega and Evan Reed.

Rondon was looking to solidify a permanent job in the relief core this year.  Having 100 MPH fastball is one thing, but he was improving on his secondary pitches, and was going to be used in 7th or 8th inning role with the club, setting up the table for Nathan.  Now he will go under the knife in Tommy John Surgery.

Rondon was looking to solidify a permanent job in the relief core this year. Having 100 MPH fastball is one thing, but he was improving on his secondary pitches, and was going to be used in 7th or 8th inning role with the club, setting up the table for Nathan. Now he will go under the knife in Tommy John Surgery.  It is a blow that will probably need to be addressed by the team.  Again, it is good they are playing in the AL Central.

By 1st glance, I like the Closers position being solidified by Nathan, however at this point, and consider that Rondon is out for the year, the 2014 Bullpen may be worse than the 2013 team.

Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit were the best 2 guys on the team last year.

I am predicting Nathan to net nearly 50 Saves this year, and he is not the problem.

Chamberlian burst onto the scene with the Yankees in 2007 - when he Struckout 36 batters in his 1st 24 MLB IP - while carrying a 0.38 ERA.  The team should have earmarked him to stay in the Bullpen - instead they messed with him as a Starter - and he was never the same.  The last 2 years have seen his ERA escalate to near 5 and his WHIP to escalate to the 1.75 WHIP range.  The Tigers are hoping a change of scenery can rejuvenate his career.

Chamberlain burst onto the scene with the Yankees in 2007 – when he Struckout 36 batters in his 1st 24 MLB IP – while carrying a 0.38 ERA. The team should have earmarked him to stay in the Bullpen – instead they messed with him as a Starter – and he was never the same. The last 2 years have seen his ERA escalate to near 5 and his WHIP to escalate to the 1.75 WHIP range. The Tigers are hoping a change of scenery can rejuvenate his career.

Chamberlain had been touted to work the 8th at least to start, but he carried a 4.93 ERA and 1.738 WHIP in his 40 Appearances last year.

Ian Krol is a nice lefty specialist out of the pen, but he sported a 3.95 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in the NL for the Nationals last year.  That is a far cry from the 2.37 ERA and 1.039 WHIP Smyly put forth last campaign.

Phil Coke has been less than stellar his whole career for the Tigers, with an ERA of 5.40 this in 2013 and a DET mark of 4.34 in 265.2 IP, why is he receiving so much work still?  They should cut ties with him if he has a slow start.

Phil Coke has been less than stellar his whole career for the Tigers, with an ERA of 5.40 this in 2013 and a DET mark of 4.34 in 265.2 IP, why is he receiving so much work still? They should cut ties with him if he has a slow start.

Phil Coke is lucky to still have a job.  He has a 4.20 ERA for his lifetime, and that is not saying much for a Reliever playing half of his games in Comerica Park.

His best stint with the franchise was during the 2012 playoff run.  Coke slamming his glove on the ground after the AL clinch versus the Yankees has clouded people’s perception of the guy.

The LHP veteran has failed to keep a WHIP under 1.438 in his 4 seasons with the Tigers.

Al Alburquerque, 26, was yet to surrender a HR in regular season play (56.2 IP) before the 2013 year.  He was one of the most dominant young relievers in the MLB - before last season's collapse.  Alburquerque had stretched that out to 76.2 IP in 2013 - before the floodgates opened with 5 HRs in his last 29 IP.

Al Alburquerque, 27, was yet to surrender a HR in regular season play (56.2 IP) before the 2013 year. He was one of the most dominant young relievers in the MLB – before last season’s collapse. Alburquerque had stretched that out to 76.2 IP in 2013 – before the floodgates opened with 5 HRs in his last 29 IP to end the year.

Alburquerque was filthy dominant in his 1st few years in Motown, however 2013 was a different story.  A 4.59 ERA and 1.49 WHIP doesn’t cut it.

This is going to be a problem.  Luke Putkonen, Evan Reed and Jose Ortega had average numbers, but nothing to write home about.

It is apparently clear that the Detroit Starting Staff better work long into the night.  I project bad news for their Relief Core.

Maybe they can do it with smoke and mirrors.

Dave Dombrowski should really be keeping his eye on this problem too.  Not that the injuries to Andy Dirks and Jose Iglesias haven’t given him worries.

Rajai Davis and now Andrew Romine are the replacements.  These guys won’t seal the fate for the ballclub and the Tigers GM could still spend some of the owners money to neutralize this.

Before the year is finished, there must be adjustments to this depth chart.

Luckily for Detroit, they have the last 2 AL Cy Young Winners.  Both Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are capable of winning 20 games.

has been the best pitcher in the American League over the last 5 years. Verlander is 137 - 77 (.640) with a 3.41 ERA in the 1st 9 years of his career. The 2011 AL Cy Young Winner and 2012 Cy Young runner up is signed with the club until at least 2019, and it could be 2020 with a Vesting Option. Verlander has thrown over 200+ IP each year since 2007.he Detroit Tigers are certainly lucky the San Diego Padres took Matt Bush with the 1st overall pick - as JVerlander has been the best pitcher in the American League over the last 5 years. Verlander is 137 - 77 (.640) with a 3.41 ERA in the 1st 9 years of his career. The 2011 AL Cy Young Winner and 2012 Cy Young runner up is signed with the club until at least 2019, and it could be 2020 with a Vesting Option. Verlander has thrown over 200+ IP each year since 2007.  The 30 Year old has added a 7 - 5 record in 15 Career Post Season Games and a 3.28 ERA - among 0 - 3 with a 7.20 in 3 World Series Starts

Justin Verlander has been the best pitcher in the American League over the last 5 years. Verlander is 137 – 77 (.640) with a 3.41 ERA in the 1st 9 years of his career. The 2011 AL Cy Young Winner and 2012 Cy Young runner up is signed with the club until at least 2019, and it could be 2020 with a Vesting Option. Verlander has thrown over 200+ IP each year since 2007. The Detroit Tigers are certainly lucky the San Diego Padres took Matt Bush with the 1st overall pick – and not him.

Verlander has been battling health all winter, and is questionable for his Opening Day start with having completed abdominal surgery on Mar.17.

Sanchez authored his best campaign of his career in 2013, with leading the AL with an ERA of 2.57, while possessing dominant stuff in most of his outings.  He starts the 2014 year with a shoulder injury.  His numbers and performance warrant a #1 or #2 Starter on most clubs.

Sanchez authored his best campaign of his career in 2013, with leading the AL with an ERA of 2.57, while possessing dominant stuff in most of his outings. He starts the 2014 year with a shoulder injury. His numbers and performance warrant a #1 or #2 Starter on most clubs.

The third starter, Anibal Sanchez, won the AL ERA title last season, and is capable of being the #1 pitcher on many teams in the Majors.

He is suffering a minor ailment from his shoulder, but the team is not completely worried.

Rick Porcello had his best season in the Majors since his rookie year with the Tigers in 2009.  At age 24, he went 13 - 8, with a 4.32 ERA and a WHIP of 1.282. (Career Best).  He is trending in the right direction.  With the club already having Dealt Fister, the likelihood of a Porcello trade is next to nil in 2014.  This should help his campaign.

Rick Porcello had his best season in the Majors since his rookie year with the Tigers in 2009. At age 24, he went 13 – 8, with a 4.32 ERA and a WHIP of 1.282. (Career Best). He is trending in the right direction. With the club already having Dealt Fister, the likelihood of a Porcello trade is next to nil in 2014. This should help his campaign.

Rick Porcello and  Drew Smyly round out the starting staff.

These guys should be projected to win double digit games by themselves.

Here are my projections for the Starting Staff.

Justin Verlander: 30 GS: 210 IP, 18 – 9, 3.17 ERA

Max Scherzer: 17 – 9, 3.61 ERA

Anibal Sanchez: 13 – 10, 3.25 ERA

Drew Smyly: 12 – 9, 3.85 ERA

Rick Porcello:  12 – 12, 4.50 ERA

Starting Staff, 3.55 ERA: 72 Wins and 49 losses.

Robbie Ray, (acquired for Fister), may be the 1st one called up in the case of injuries at any point in the season.

I love the Tigers Starting Pitching staff more than any other team in the AL, and second to the Washington Nationals Roster.

Having said this, I still hate the Doug Fister trade.  If the Tigers get into injury trouble to any of their top 3, it could be disastrous.

Smyly was perfect in his Bullpen efforts, while Fister was the best #4 pitcher in the Majors.  You took 2 strengths for your team, and replaced them with none in that trade with Washington.

Krol is not as good as Smyly, and Smyly may not fare well as Fister.

The potential Wildcard in the rotation has got to be Rick Porcello.  At just 25, this RHP has started 149 contests in his 1st 5 years, lugging 870 IP.

This is a make or break year for the man from NJ originally.

If Porcello can exceed projections, than Smyly could be average in the rotation.

Stretching Smyly from 70 IP by adding another 100 IP will be different.

Again for the price tag of $8 MIL, the team should have kept Fister.

Smyly was the dominant LHP In the Tigers Bullpen Bullpen, and had a 2.37 ERA with a 6 - 0 record in 63 Appearances and 76 IP.  Smyly was moved into the Rotation for this year.  He was last in the rotation in 2012, with a 3.99 ERA in 19 GS.

Smyly was the dominant LHP In the Tigers Bullpen, and had a 2.37 ERA with a 6 – 0 record in 63 Appearances and 76 IP. Smyly was moved into the Rotation for this year. He was last in the rotation in 2012, with a 3.99 ERA in 19 GS and 23 Appearances in his rookie year in 2012.  Can he throw more than 100 IP or more in his move back to the Starting Staff?

Detroit still is in a great position to win the AL Central based on “Strength of Schedule”, the Division they play in, and having 3 world class players in Miguel Cabrera, Verlander and Scherzer.

Speaking of the 2013 AL Cy Young Winner.  There is no way the Tigers can re-sign him and then ink Cabrera on the dotted line in 2016.

A decision by the teams brass needs to think of the window only being 1 more year as the team is currently constituted.

Sanchez and Verlander will earn $45 MIL each for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons.  You can’t add another $27 – $30 MIL AAV for the 3rd member of the staff being Scherzer.

Smyly and Porcello will also earn in the $15 – $18 MIL per season in Arbitration too, although Porcello could be let go in future years in favor of Robbie Ray.

My point is, add Nathan or replacement Closer, and you simply can’t have $105 – $110 MIL on team payroll locked up on your staff.

It will take at least $30 MIL AAV to re-sign Cabrera too.

The team will lose DH and OF Hunter for sure in Free Agency if you sign Scherzer.  Look at all of the Tommy John Surgeries going on right now.  Do you want to have two $27 MIL+ pitchers on the team?

The only way I see the club pulling Scherzer off is if they decide to walk away from Cabrera in 2016.

You could sign Scherzer, and keep sign either Torii Hunter or  Victor Martinez for another year, and take another full run at it again in 2015.

My prediction is that Scherzer will outprice himself out of the city, and the Tigers will move to a rotation of Verlander, Sanchez, Smyly, Porcello and Ray for 2015, and ink Cabrera in the 2015 winter.

Detroit Tigers State Of The Union Part 1: What Will The Offense Look Like In 2014?

Yes Max Scherzer wrapped up the AL Cy Young with a most impressive season in 2013, but the club will be hard pressed to lock up his services beyond the 2014 campaign - when you factor the team wants to re-sign Cabrera in 2016, and also the club is already spending upwards of $45 MIL per year on Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez as part of the Starting Pitching Staff.  The team just put out a press release saying 'The club gave a substantial offer, that would have made the RHP, one of the highest paid pitchers in baseball, and he doth refused it."

Yes Max Scherzer wrapped up the AL Cy Young with a most impressive season in 2013, but the club will be hard pressed to lock up his services beyond the 2014 campaign – when you factor the team wants to re-sign Cabrera in 2016, and also the club is already spending upwards of $45 MIL per year on Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez as part of the Starting Pitching Staff. The team just put out a press release saying ‘The club gave a substantial offer, that would have made the RHP, one of the highest paid pitchers in baseball, and he refused it.’

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com ***

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Posted on March 23, 2014, in MLB Teams State Of the Unions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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