At the (Third) Quarter Pole: Starting Pitching


Once again, the starters for the Tigs were inconsistent in the third quarter. That seems to be the theme for the entire season. Besides Verlander, it’s really been a crapshoot for essentially the entire season. Other than Verlander’s 17-5, the Tiger staff has gone 33-37 with a 5.73 ERA for the season. That simply is not good enough if they want to make a playoff splash. Here are the third quarter grades:

Justin Verlander: It’s hard to hold him to this ridiculously high standard, but he’s been so unbelievable this season that it comes with the territory. In his 9 starts, he’s only given up 48 hits in 66 IP, while only walking 14 and striking out 72. His OPS against is a measily .548, and only surrendering a .197 BAA. Verlander has gone 7-2 in these 9 starts, it’s actually hard to believe he’s lost twice. Verlander gets an A for being the horse.

Max Scherzer: He’s been up and down this season. Started pretty well and has come back down to earth of late. The Tigs really need him to live up to his #2 starter potential if they want to make a playoff push. In his 8 starts for the third quarter, Max compiled a 3-4 record, 49 h 10 walks in 47.2 IP. Max has allowed a .736 OPS against, which is pretty high for him. Over that time as well, he’s got a 4.15 ERA. However, these numbers are deceiving, because of one 2 inning outing at the beginning of the third quarter. He’s actually pitched pretty well 5 3/4 times out of the 8 starts he’s made (3/4 being after the second inning of the baltimore game). I’ll give Max a solid B, he’s looked pretty good a bunch of times out there, and has kept the Tigers in the game most every time out.

Rick Porcello: Rick looked like he was making progress here in the third quarter. He had 5 wins in a row in July, and made 6 quality starts in a row. However, his last two times out have been pretty shaky. Overall, he’s thrown 48.1 IP, with 56 hits allowed, only 6 walks surrendered, and 33 K. Porcello has a 5-2 record in the 3rd quarter and a 4.8 ERA. However, the ERA really is misleading, because of the 3.2 IP 8 ER start. If you omit that start, Rick’s 3rd quarter ERA is a much more respectible 3.63. However, you can’t, and he’s been on the downswing lately. For that, Rick earns a B- for the third quarter, even though he’s kept the Tigers in the game a majority of the time, he’s gotten hit pretty hard of late and looks to be tiring a bit. Hopefully he readjusts.

Brad Penny: I won’t beat around the bush here. Penny has been flat out awful lately. The Tigers are looking for any excuse to skip his starts. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Turner/Below getting a majority of his starts down the stretch. He won’t be pitching any playoff games, and will probably be the swing-man in the bullpen. The season didn’t start off this bad for Penny, but in the most recent quarter of the season, Penny has started 7 games, with a mediocre 3-3 record, yet has some pretty dismal numbers otherwise. He’s only struck out 13 in 42 innings, which is borderline unfathomable. His .858 OPS against and .324 BAA are indicative of the inability to miss bats, plain and simple. Those numbers just won’t get it done. Penny has a 5.74 ERA during this stretch, and has barely been keeping the Tigers in games. He’s doing his best Armando Galarraga impression. Penny gets a D-, and I’m being nice here.

Doug Fister: Big things are expected of this lanky right hander going forward. He came to the Tigers in a late July trade, where the Tigs gave up a few decent prospects. So far, Fister hasn’t exactly lived up to the hype, but it’s pretty unfair to judge someone based on a 3 start sample, especially where one start was only two innings. I’ll give Fister an INC, yet I’m extremely excited to see what he has in store down the stretch this season.