After a season in which they had 13 different pitchers start games, the Tigers used this offseason to remedy their starting rotation woes. The acquisitions of Matt Moore and Tyson Ross via free agency added some veteran experience to the Tigers’ rotation that had the fourth least wins in games started (36). Looking ahead to the 2019 season, here’s a breakdown of the rotation as well as who could make an impact in the next few years.
2019 Projected Rotation:
- Jordan Zimmermann
- Matt Boyd
- Tyson Ross
- Matt Moore
- Spencer Turnbull
The injury to Michael Fulmer along with Zimmermann’s experience makes him the most likely candidate for Opening Day. A subpar 4.73 spring ERA doesn’t necessarily display Zimmermann’s ability on the mound, but his ability to find the strike zone grants him the first spot in the rotation.
In what could be his breakout year, Boyd is looking like the strongest arm in the rotation this year. His .319 opponent BA this spring was not enthusing, but at 26, Boyd seems like the most dependable option in the rotation (at least until the trade deadline)…
There’s a lot to be excited about in Ross. A bullpen designation near the end of last season did wonders for the right-hander as he lowered his ERA from 4.45 in 22 starts with the Padres to 2.73 in 9 games with the Cardinals (1 start).
The acquisition of Matt Moore was undoubtedly not the most notable offseason move. However, a lefty in the rotation can’t hurt a rebuilding team’s roster. A terrible 2018 season will hopefully be left in the rearview mirror as Moore looks for a better season in the Motor City.
The biggest battle this spring was between the 26-year-old Turnbull and the left-handed Daniel Norris. Turnbull has had the better spring, but this is not the sole reason I see him winning the fifth spot. If the Tigers were to keep Norris in the minors long enough, they would gain an extra year of team control. Both factors ultimately contribute to the likelihood of Turnbull earning a spot on the opening day roster.
On the Outside Looking In
These players aren’t likely to break the opening day roster, but they are sure to make an impact in Detroit sometime this season.
As previously mentioned, Norris’ contract is a large part of why he will start in AAA. Injuries have been an all-too-regular part of Norris’ young career, and his numbers have not helped his case. A 5.68 ERA in 11 games last year with Detroit puts a big question mark on Norris’ future with the team but expect him to make some appearances in Detroit throughout 2019.
The 25-year-old is still a big part of Detroit’s plans. A freak injury and some command issues have plagued Funkhouser the past two seasons, but he is bound for the Toledo rotation and potentially some starts with the big-league team.
The Future is Bright
The Tigers have one of the best farm systems in baseball when it comes to starting pitching. However, many of these prospects are young and don’t look to be major league-ready. Here’s a look at the future of Detroit Tigers pitching.
Matt Manning– 2018 Stats (West Michigan, Lakeland, Erie): 3.29 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 11.8 K/9
Alex Faedo – 2018 Stats (Lakeland, Erie): 4.02 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, .228 Opp. BA
Casey Mize – 2018 Stats (GCL Tigers, Lakeland): 3.95 ERA in five games, 9.2 K/9
Gregory Soto – 2018 Stats (Lakeland): 8-8 with 4.45 ERA in 25 total games (23 starts); will serve a 20-game suspension at the beginning of the 2019 season
Franklin Perez – 2018 Stats (GCL Tigers, Lakeland): 6.52 ERA in seven games before a season-ending injury
Beau Burrows– 2018 Stats (Erie): 4.10 ERA in 26 starts, 1.36 WHIP, 8.53 K/9