We’re just around that point in a season (closing in on 1/5 of the way through…) when the line for a rotation starts to look fairly similar to a full season for a single starter. In the case of the Tigers rotation – a single very, very good starter.
Take a look at these lines here, with pitchers’ names removed
20-5, 4.8 WAR, 2.56 ERA, 3.06 FIP, 211 IP, 205 K, 59 BB
17-8, 7.0 WAR, 2.64 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 231.1 IP, 239 K, 60 BB
16-6, 6.7 WAR, 3.06 ERA, 2.48 FIP, 189.2 IP, 198 K, 45 BB
20-5, 2.9 WAR, 2.81 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 188.1 IP, 142 K, 45 BB
13-9, 5.9 WAR, 3.06 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 232 IP, 223 K, 56 BB
17-8, 4.8 WAR, 3.05 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 192 IP, 192 K, 51 BB
That’s the top 5 starters from last year’s AL Cy Young race (ignoring Fernando Rodney, just like so many voters did) as well as the 2013 Tigers rotation through 30 games despite the fact that it contains a Rick Porcello . Can you tell which one is which? Not exactly obvious. To be fair to the 2013 Tigers, 30 starts is fewer than most Cy Young contenders make. We should really wait until after this short series in DC to decide whether that rotation is as good as or better than any of those unnamed stat lines. The Tigers are the third from the top, second among them in WAR, tops in FIP. Two more starts should get the Tigers rotation over 200 innings and over 200 strikeouts. It could get them up to 18 wins, and maybe even (though I suppose this is not likely) an ERA under 3.00 and a WAR total higher than Justin Verlander’s 7.0. I don’t think it’s fair to say – and probably won’t be fair even if we see a couple of outstanding starts this week – that the Tigers rotation, top-to-bottom, is better than any of the Cy Young competitors last season. But just the fact that it’s comparable???