NOTE: The views expressed in this EDITORIAL do not necessarily reflect the views of Detroit Sports Nation or a majority of its writers and should not be misconstrued as such. The views contained within are the views of the author and the author alone.
A few days ago, Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was asked about Daniel Norris regarding his possible place in the starting rotation.
Asked if Daniel Norris could be penciled into the Tigers' starting rotation, manager Brad Ausmus said, "It's in pencil."
— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) March 14, 2017
As a fan, I’m nonplussed by that particular quote. I’m all for looking at players and making careful decisions as a manager. However, this seems like a no-brainer to me.
According to the official Detroit Tigers website, here is the list of players who are vying for a spot in the starting rotation.
- Justin Verlander
- Michael Fulmer
- Jordan Zimmermann
- Daniel Norris
- Matt Boyd
- Mike Pelfrey
- Anibal Sanchez
That order works perfectly for me for several reasons.
Experience Up Top
The Tigers are extremely fortunate to have Justin Verlander healthy and ready to rock in 2017. JV had a slow start to 2016, but, was able to round into form later in the year for a late season Cy Young push.
Conversely, no one started out 2016 hotter than Jordan Zimmermann. He blazed an early to an 8-2 record before the injuries started to pile up. Detroit is relying on him to solidify a role this year and, most importantly, stay healthy.
Ride The Hot Hand
Michael Fulmer outperformed nearly every expectation in 2016. The AL Rookie of the Year will have plenty of pressure on him in 2017 and it will be difficult to repeat his 2016 performance. However, Fulmer is tough mentally. A slight statistical regression in 2017 will be fine as he should still be a force to be reckoned with as the third starter.
The Tigers have plenty of veteran hitting and defense all around the ball field. If the team stays healthy, they definitely have the talent to make a run at the playoffs in 2017.
That said, every team must rely on the younger players at some point to carry some of the load. I believe that Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd are ready to step up. If for only karmic reasons, the Tigers need to force the issue a little bit here. Detroit fans are tired of watching Anibal Sanchez underperform and the Mike Pelfrey of 2016 certainly doesn’t sell many tickets. A slow start from those veterans could lead to negative reactions from the fans. The Detroit Tigers need all the positive vibes they can get.
It’s time for a little excitement on the diamond. Yes – Boyd and Norris are going to make some mistakes. They will be learning at the MLB level, which is always a challenge. However, those two young pitchers will inject much-needed energy into the lineup and create some anticipation at Comerica Park.
Let’s have the young guys get a chance to learn on the job. With Verlander, Zimmermann, and Fulmer leading the way, Detroit can afford a little youthful enthusiasm at the 4 and 5 spots. Sanchez and Pelfrey can be waiting in the wings in case of a major issue. The veteran leadership they will provide will be just as valuable as what they are likely to produce on the mound.