Regular Season Final Grades: Starting Pitching
By John Verburg
With the playoffs in full swing, it may be a little late, but I thought it would be time to do some grading for the regular season. Let’s take a look at how our Tigers did this year in this writers opinion.
Note: This does not include the playoffs at all. Just a regular season performance grade.
Justin Verlander (A+)
This one is essentially a no-brainer. Verlander led the staff the whole season, stopping losing streaks, and dominating for long stretches at a time on his way to 24 wins. He led the league in wins, ERA, innings, WHIP, strikeouts, ERA+, and H/9 allowed. He held opponents to a .192 BA against and just an OPS against of .555. His dominance of the American League is almost assuredly going to lead to his first Cy Young Award, and has put him into serious consideration for the MVP. A lot of people in Detroit have seen the immense talent for years and wondered when Verlander was going to put it all together, we all have to wonder no longer. Verlander is a true ace.
Max Scherzer (C+)
A lot was expected of Max Scherzer this season after finishing strong in 2010. He was one of the better 2nd half pitchers in all of baseball last year, and expectations have to play a role in this grading. Max was outstanding at times, and looked lost at other times. Scherzer did finish with a 15-9 record on the season, but with a pedestrian ERA of 4.43. The real difference was his home and road splits, where Scherzer was 2 runs better at home than he was on the road. Inconsistency continued to plague Max, and it hurt the number of innings that he was allowed to throw. He finished with 195 innings this season, the same as last year. For a guy that was looking to gain consistency, and didn’t really do so, I couldn’t go higher with the grade. The 15 wins got him the B range.
Rick Porcello (C)
You could almost just copy what I wrote about Scherzer down for Porcello. Porcello, now in his 3rd full big league season was supposed to take a step forward this season. And he did at times. Porcello’s season was literally an every other month success. Porcello was also the anti-Scherzer in that he was much better on the road than at home. He had an ERA of 4.00 on the road and 5.64 at home. Porcello didn’t really look better in the 2nd half either, as he was pretty consistent performance wise from the first to 2nd half. With the inconsistency month to month, you never got the feeling that Porcello was putting things together. He did have a career high K/9 number, but that was still insignificant at just 5.1/9. Porcello won 14 games, but with an overall ERA of 4.75, that is more luck than anything else.
Brad Penny (C-)
Okay. Hang with me here. Brad Penny isn’t a good pitcher and didn’t have a good season. However, this again goes to expectations prior to the season. Penny is one of the worst pitchers statistically in the league that got regular every 5 day starts. But what did we all expect? My expectation was that he would come in, pitch some decent games, and eat up some innings. That’s almost all you want from a fifth starter, and Penny did that. Penny also showed a knack to give up early runs in a game, then shut down the opponent and allow his team to come back. On the season Penny finished with a record of 11-11, but ate up 180 innings. A lot of people, including myself, expected about half of that inning wise, given his Penny’s injury history. His ERA was high at 5.30, but I will take this performance from him.
Doug Fister (A)
Even though Fister only pitched with Detroit in August and September, I figured it would be fair to give him a grade. I saw all I needed to see from Fister down the stretch to give him the A grade, and really all season even when he was with Seattle. Fister, although he was just 11-13 overall, had an outstanding ERA of 2.83 for the season, and couldn’t help that he was pitching for offensively challenged Seattle up until the end of July. Since he became a Tiger, he tacked 8 of those wins on, and showed that he was a great pitcher down the stretch. Fister finished with an ERA of
1.79 for the Tigers, pitching with pace, and essentially giving the Tigers one of the most potent 1-2 punches in the playoffs going forward.
So there you have it, my grades for the Tigers starting staff. What are yours?