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Detroit Tigers Fans Should Be Grateful for Legitimate Opening Day Starter


I’ll admit I have a problem. I’ve got a thing for random former Detroit Tigers.

I suppose when one’s childhood is littered with bad professional baseball one must find alternate means of entertainment. Fortunately, that is largely a thing of the past as the Tigers roster is filled with legitimate major leaguers. Justin Verlander is a bona fide top of the rotation pitcher and a player we can be proud to see wearing the olde English D when he takes the mound on opening day. Verlander will make his fourth consecutive opening day start later this month, the longest streak since Jack Morris made eleven straight opening day starts from 1980 to 1990.

What transpired between Morris and Verlander is right in my random Tiger wheelhouse. Let’s take a trip down memory lane:

1991: Frank Tanana
1992: Bill Gullickson
1993: Mike Moore
1994: Mike Moore
1995: Mike Moore
1996: Felipe Lira
1997: Doug Brocail
1998: Justin Thompson
1999: Brian Moehler
2000: Hideo Nomo
2001: Jeff Weaver
2002: Jeff Weaver
2003: Mike Maroth
2004: Jason Johnson
2005: Jeremy Bonderman
2006: Kenny Rogers
2007: Jeremy Bonderman

The list of players is largely filled by two groups of players: those that used to be good (Frank Tanana and Bill Gullickson for example) and those that could be considered good in comparison to the rest of the roster (think Jeff Weaver and Jason Johnson).

Mike Moore was a former number one overall pick but was already a bust by the time the Tigers got their hands on him. His three seasons in Detroit were the last three of his major league career.

Doug Brocail put together a 15 year career (which just ended, by the way) that included a grand total of 42 starts, on of which happened to be on opening day for the Detroit Tigers. Random.

Justin Thompson was supposed to be some kind of wonder-kid but instead he put together three full years in Detroit in which his ERA went up by about a run per year. He was later traded in the Juan Gonzalez deal and pitched a total of an inning and two-thirds for the Texas Rangers. Injuries derailed his career but let’s not pretend that he would have lived up to the hype anyway.

The fact that Hideo Nomo made an opening day start for the Tigers is even more forgettable than his no-hitter. In fairness, the 2000 season was a bit of a different scenario as the opening of Comerica Park the next week made starting the home opener a more prestigious designation. Brian Moehler got that start.

I feel confident in calling Jack Morris and Justin Verlander “aces”. The guys that started on opening day in between their streaks? Not so much.

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