Anthony Castrovince, a columnist for MLB.com, has a mini-series running right now ranking the top ten teams in baseball in each of four categories; starting pitching, relief pitching, offense, and defense. The first two parts are live and your Detroit Tigers are ranked in both.
The starting staff from the Motor City comes in seventh, in between the Atlanta Braves’ (eighth) and the Arizona Diamondbacks’ (sixth). Castrovince notes the inconsistency of the back end of Detroit’s rotation of yesteryear and expresses tempered optimism that top prospect Jacob Turner will live up to his potential and solidify the group this year. Turner still has to win the major league job vacated by Brad Penny, but if he does, he’ll join a young, talented quartet of Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello that is teeming with potential. The Tigers are the only team from the American League Central to make Castrovince’s list, but three other AL juggernauts rank ahead of them–the Los Angeles Angels at second, Tampa Bay Rays at third, and Texas Rangers at fifth. The New York Yankees place behind Detroit at ninth.
Bullpens are generally much more volatile than starting rotations and are therefore harder to rank with much authority. It’s still worth noting, though, that even with the loss of Al Alburquerque to an elbow injury until around the All-Star break, the Tigers’ relief corp still has potential to be a force. Octavio Dotel will join Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit, who both proved their worth last year, in a late innings role. Phil Coke is far more useful out of the ‘pen than some give him credit for and what’s more, he will not be tasked with starting games as he was last year, instead staying in the bullpen (where he’s more effective) to help lock down the seventh inning. Daniel Schlereth, used correctly, is also a valuable asset. Castrovince places the collection tenth, behind those of only four AL teams; the Yankees at number one, the Rangers at fourth, Detroit’s division rival Cleveland Indians at fifth, and the Toronto Blue Jays at ninth.
While the Tigers’ lineup was touted to some extent even before the Prince Fielder acquisition, it’s healthy to remember that this team will not live by offense alone. The current club put together by Dave Dombrowski and his staff is a balanced one; every area is a strength besides defense.
If you want to check out what Castrovince had to say about the top starting staffs and bullpens assembled across baseball for this year yourself, which I encourage, click the links provided in this paragraph.