On the rotation

Caught some feedback from fans over yesterday’s story on the Tigers rotation, especially the idea that the Tigers don’t have anyone on the level of Johan Santana or Mark Buehrle. It wasn’t a remark on talent, but on track records, something I probably didn’t make clear enough. Both Justin Verlander and Jeremy Bonderman went pitch-for-pitch against Santana last year, but Santana also has two Cy Young awards and a pitching triple crown to his credit. Bonderman or Verlander might put up those kinds of accomplishments in the coming years, but they haven’t yet. Obviously, they haven’t been around long enough.

As for Buehrle, well, he probably doesn’t get the respect he should — certainly not lately. Last season’s struggles and Kenny Williams’ recent controversy aside, he has four years with at least 16 wins out of six full big-league seasons, and he has <i>averaged</i> just under 230 innings a season in that time. He’s also 11-7 with a 2.92 ERA lifetime against Detroit, even after two losses to the Tigers down the stretch last year.

Also have received questions about Maroth as a potential reliever, but the final rotation spot is his to lose. There was a line in the Sporting News preview player evaluations (unfortunately packaged alongside a story that I wrote) that said he had no impact on the rotation last year, but I strongly dispute that. If you believe the notion that the Tigers made the playoffs in large part thanks to their strong start, then you have to credit what he did before he went on the DL. He went four out of his first seven starts with at least six innings and either one run or no runs allowed. The Tigers won all four of those games, three of them ending up one-run victories despite scoring three runs or less. Surgery is surgery, but usually when it involves bone chips, the recovery is not very drastic.

That’s what I was trying to point out in my story: If you can plug somebody like that into the bottom of your rotation, compared to most big-league rotations, that’s a huge advantage.

10 Comments

Sorry for such a basic question, but do you mean #4 or #5 starter? Where is Verlander?

My concern about Maroth is that the opposition may be able to take advantage of 3 lefites in the rotation. I like his stuff but wonder if he might be a possibility in the bullpen. Kinda hoping Campusano works out.

The order of the starters isn’t going to reflect priority. It’s going to be an effort to show opponents a change of style from one day to the next, making sure Rogers and Maroth aren’t pitching back to back. Best guess would be something like Bonderman, Rogers, Verlander, Robertson and Maroth.

I’m still choked a bit about the World Series. Seems a shame the guys came so far and played so well to overcome some problems just to be pretty much dominated by the Cards. The pitchers held the mighty Pujols to just 3 hits and 1 long ball and I figured that would be the key to the series!

I will never, ever agree with the decision to have Verlander open the series. I thought that was pretty dumb. that and the plan to hold rogers back for Tiger Stadium.

That basically said they expected to lose at LEAST 2 games, instead of going right after them. The way Rogers was pitching it was pretty clear he was in a zone where could beat anyone, anywhere, anytime. Saving him for home was pretty dense.

It was a sweet ride though and if we can solidify the middle of the lineup this year it will be again, very interesting.

Well Jason, I couldn’t agree with you more about Maroth. I thought last year, before his injury, that he was the ace of the Tigers staff. I’ve always had a very high opinion of Mike. That rotation you posted here is a good one too. Just think if you have Zumaya in relief of Maroth and Rogers, and Rodney following Bonderman and Verlander. Opposing hitters will see a constant style switch, every night. That’s a lot of different types of pitches to see in a game.

Dan, Rogers would have been pretty lonely if he’d been held back for “Tiger Stadium.” It would have been vewwy vewwy dark. Sorry buddy, couldn’t resist. :-)

Hey, how about Mike Maroth for game one of the 2007 World Series?

Rich–you might recall the original rotation and explanation. JL wanted Rogers for game 2 and game 6 so that Rogers would be pitching at home. My contention was he should have started game 1 and he would then be almost guaranteed another start. In fact he could have started game 5 anyway with the postponement but JL didn’t want to throw him in St.L, especially after the dirty ball incident.
JL should have relied on as much as he could on the guy who was virtually unhittable and showing so much character and confidence. Instead he outsmarted himself by going with a rookie in a pressure cooker.

If Rogers starts game 1—we would have had a much different WS.

As a footnote on that Sporting News yearbook you might pick up in the next few weeks, I also wasn’t the one who wrote that Neifi Perez helped the Tigers stay in the playoff hunt when Polanco was injured. Yikes.

Dan, I’m sorry. I was making a weak attempt at humor because you said Tiger Stadium instead of Comerica Park. I thought at the time that starting Rogers away from home might make him even more competitive and at the very least, wouldn’t make him less effective. I guess those decisions will live on in Tiger lore.

Good heads up on the Sporting News yearbook, Jason! :-) I read your comment on the Tiger site that they wouldn’t hesitate to eat Neifi’s contract. I hope that’s the case. I’d like nothing better than to see the guy win the position, but the key here is winning the position and not having it handed to him. I’m not sure, however, if he’ll ever be accepted by Tiger fans. He’s reached near legendary status already.

That is funny Rich. Shows you where my head is at. At least I didn’t call it Brigg’s Stadium! Or worse yet, Navin Field.
I’ve never been to Comerica—would be nice to do, maybe this year!

One of the qualities that makes Leyland such a great manager is that when he came on board, it seems like any measure of complacency went out the window. No one was “guaranteed” a role on the 25 man roster. He clearly stated that the best 25 would be on the team, and that paid off in a huge way with Verlander and Zumaya. Being on the team by merit, not contract or service time set the tone. Sure lots of managers state this at the beginning of the spring, but Leyland and Dombrowski followed through on it. I’d expect nothing less this spring as applied to Perez, Maroth, or Campusano.

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