Early spring training Tigers rotation is set

While Tigers manager Brad Ausmus doesn’t have a season-opening rotation order yet, his rotation for the first few games of Spring Training is set. It’ll begin with prospect Drew VerHagen, who will start the team’s traditional opening exhibition with Florida Southern College next Tuesday at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Before you start speculating about VerHagen’s chances to knock on Detroit’s door as a potential sixth starter in case of injury, remember that Tigers top pitching prospect Andy Oliver started against the Mocs two years ago, the last time the exhibition led off the Spring Training game.

From there, the projected Major League rotation begins to slot in. Drew Smyly, back in a starting role, will lead off the Tigers’ Grapefruit League slate against the Braves next Wednesday at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex, followed by Rick Porcello in the back half the home-and-home set against the Braves Thursday at Lakeland.

The Tigers’ first split-squad day Friday will feature the reigning Cy Young winner and an insurance starter. Max Scherzer will face the Yankees in Lakeland, while Jose Alvarez makes the trip to Clearwater to face the Phillies.

Ausmus had already ruled out Justin Verlander from the first turn through the Spring Training rotation as he builds up his workload following core muscle surgery. The goal is to get Verlander five starts this spring, which should be enough to stretch him out for the start of the season.

Alvarez, who filled in for Anibal Sanchez while he was on the disabled list last summer, could provide an insurance plan if Verlander suffers a setback and isn’t ready for the start of the season.

In many springs under Leyland, the early rotation would provide a clue on the Opening Day starter if you counted out five game days from each start. Sure enough, Scherzer’s start Feb. 28 would put his spot on turn for March 31 if everybody stays in order (and if you consider the Tigers’ off-day March 19 as a day for someone to start a minor-league game, as has been the case in recent years). Because neither Verlander nor Sanchez have been slotted in yet, it’s a little fuzzier, but for now, it looks like a much easier path to Opening Day for Scherzer than anyone else.

30 Comments

I will give you that Alvarez was decent last summer but, I really believe the Tigers have other good options to back up JV as well. Why is Alvarez the front runner for this? Any word on how Duane Below is doing?

Because he is the only starter remaining in the 40 roster. Below is a non roster invitee.

I realize that but, I still think Below is better. Put their stats side by side.

Below was good with the team, until he was left in the bench to rust but barring a great ST , I guess they wont risk losing someone.

If you take Below on the 40 man, you risk losing Alvarez, or someone else on the 40 man roster. Is Below that much better at spot starting than Alvarez? I believe both will be in Toledo to start the year.

Is Lobstein on the forty man?? Alvarez is better suited to longman duties.

Yes, he is. Putkonen ,probably, will be the long reliever. DD has been always high about him

With all the off days the first two weeks they will not need to lean on anybody if JV isn’t ready. I would be fine leaving JV in FLA for a couple of extra weeks if necessary to make sure he is 100%. They don’t need a 5th starter until the 3rd week of the season.
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Looking forward to seeing the boys live in a couple of weeks. I am taking the family down to Orlando for a family vacation the first two weeks of March and we are going to pop over to Lakeland for at least one game. Rich, are you making your annual trip? I would love to meet one the most respected posters on this blog.
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— Bob

We have an MRP Award? :) I’ll be at all the Lakeland games from the 8th through the 17th. Sec 206 seat 1 row B or C depending on which day it is. Stop on by or get in touch with me on here once we’re all down there. Looking forward to it.

MRP Award. I like it. Those dates might work out perfect. As stated in another post we are going to try for a Jays game and I think they come to Lakeland the 2nd week of March.
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This is my first time going to spring training since I was a kid in the early 80s. In your opinion, should I pre buy tickets or can I get walk ups?
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— Bob

“You know, he’s played short, but hasn’t played a ton of short, so we want to see him play short,” Ausmus said. “We want him to be comfortable there. And then, third as well, although we also have Don Kelly there.
Well, Perez and Lomabardozzi would be better than Kelly and Lomabardozzi. I guess Perez could hit more than the career 239 of Kelly

I kind of think Kelly’s days are numbered. He’s earned his stripes but there comes a day…………
Davey Johnson didn’t use Lombardozzi at SS for whatever reason.

Enjoy the trip Bob. Hey Jason – thanks for all the instagram pics on twitter!

Thanks Tiger Girl. Like your hubby, the rest of my family are Blue Jay fans so I think we are going to try and see a game with the Jays come to Lakeland.
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— Bob

March 11.

That’s a row B day. :)

Bob, about the tickets. On a Tuesday with the Jays in town, walk up purchase should be easy. You can buy tickets for the berm but you don’t have to stay there; you can move about the park. Later in the game you can “steal” seats (don’t tell anyone). There is also good standing room behind the plate up next to the pressbox.
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If we get some empty seats next to us, you can join us. I’ve “hosted” friends there before. Be sure to visit the gift shop, tip your vendors, and have some strawberry shortcake. If anyone is having a birthday or similar event, sign up at the table in the concourse and they’ll put it on the scoreboard. That made a nice surprise for my pals from Michigan a couple of springs ago, especially since we had randomly run into each other there. They were like “how’d you do that?”

Thanks Rich. I will take all your tips into consideration. I remember sitting on the berm when I was like 11 or 12 yrs old. That was when there was no fence as I recall.
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— Bob

Last year we had as LHBs Avila, Dirks, Fielder and Kelly. Plus three switchhitters Martinez, Pena, and Santiago. We have traded or lost to FA three of these players.
Soooo Kelly will make this team unless he bats below .200 this spring. He has averaged over .300 the past four spring trainings.

I think “Lombo” is a switch-hitter.

2013 batting lefty:
Subtractions:
Pena 133PAs, .801/116 OPS/sOPS+
Santiago 174PAs, .584/60 OPS/sOPS+
Fielder 451PAs, .819/121 OPS/sOPS+

Hopefully will do better (batting against RHP)
Avila 291PAs, .767/107OPS/OPS+
Dirks 398PAs, .698/89 OPS/OPS+

Batting against anyone:
Avila 379PAs, .693/87 OPS/OPS+
Dirks 484PAs, .686/86 OPS/OPS+

New additions vs RHP in 2013:
Kinsler 437PAs, .733/112 OPS/OPS+
Lombo 227PAs, .601/63 OPS/OPS+

couple thoughts:
1) Prince leaves a big hole vs RHP, but Pena and Santiago offset one another with ~300PAs
2) Avila’s numbers don’t leave much room for improvement and he already plays against most RHP
3) Dirks numbers leave much room for improvement vs RHP
4) The addition of Kinsler should help offset vs RHP
5) Lombo had better improve or he’ll add to the problem in 2014 vs RHP. He’s a switch who hits RHP better – albeit not last year (80PAs vs LHP at .659 OPS)

evan, you will find interesting the BA RH/LH splits of Davis and Dirks

Last things on the Fister trade (hopefully). Read what the author says about Bronson Arroyo, and you can almost insert Fister’s name there as well. (albiet younger than Arroyo).
And about Ray, who DD obviosly thinks is a true high ceiling prospect…. tell me all the prospects that Tampa got for David Price. (waiting… waiting,,,,)

a bird in hand is worth 2 in the bush indeed. And here, DD has traded a bird in hand for 1 in the bush. Furthermore, “the consensus among other teams and prospect experts is that Ray is not that kind of prospect”. And in answer to the Price question, at least tampa will get some good contributions from Price in 2014. That’s more than many think we’ll get from Kroll and Lombo.

There is no such thing as a prospect expert. Prospect guessers is a much better term. Look back a few years and see where Avi Garcia or Devon Travis was rated by the so called experts or how Fister was rated coming up in the Seattle system. Porcello was rated as a #1 by many “experts”.

VMart hits RHP very well, he will be counted on to replace Prince’s production against Righties. We do not have much Left handed power, but with half the games at CoPa, that might not be a bad thing.

EL T, re: Dirks/Davis splits….. Davis has a more pronounced split….and hits LHP at a better clip than dirks his RHP. In fact he hits LHP very well! What else am I missing EL T?
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VMart does his RHP very well — having him for a whole season will help offset some of that lost production— true Port.

2013BA davis vs LHP: .319
2013BA dirks vs RHP: .278

2013ISO davis vs LHP: .155
2013ISO dirks vs RHP: .111

A sabermetrician would use them in an inverted platoon

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