The Tigers are a quarter of the way through the season, a good point to stop and evaluate the Tigers on an individual basis. I get things started with the starting pitchers; the rest of the MCB crew will chime in with their own position groups a bit later.
Justin Verlander – A
An ERA under 3.00, a WHIP under 1.00, American League strike out leader and nine-for-nine in quality starts. What more can you ask of your ace, especially one previously known for slow starts? Not much.
Max Scherzer – A-
The primary numbers look really good, especially the 6-0 record, but Scherzer’s secondary numbers suggest he has ducked and dodged his way out of trouble. Ultimately, he should be commended for the results but he’ll have to keep the walk and home run numbers down the rest of the way.
Rick Porcello – B
The opponents’ batting average against Rick Porcello (.287) is higher than I’d like to see but he has increased his strike out rate by over 1 K/9 from last year, a key component to finding his ace within. Tigers fans should be tickled if Rick can finish the season with a record a tick above .500 and an ERA solidly in the 3-range.
Brad Penny – C+
This is a tough grade to hand out because we’ve seen two versions of Brad Penny this year. As long as the real Brad Penny is somewhere between the bad one we saw in his first four starts and the great one we’ve seen in his last five starts, the Tigers are getting great value out of the fourth spot in their rotation. Watch his walk numbers, they’ll tell the story from here.
Phil Coke – C
What is Phil Coke? I’m still not really sure. I can’t say the starting experiment has been a disaster, despite Coke’s 1-5 record (one loss was in relief). His ERA as a starter is 4.24, a pretty good number if you look at back end of the rotations league-wide. Phil will have his days but he’s good enough to hold down the fifth starting spot, especially if some of Max Scherzer’s good fortune starts to rub off on him.