Tigers Mid-Season Grades: Starting Pitchers


Another day, another series here on MCB. Of course, when it gets to the All-Star break, it’s natural for sites like this to look back and bring some grades to you from the first half. So, in an effort to be predictable, I wanted to give you a position by position look at how I think the Tigers grade out this season.

No reason to delay…

Justin Verlander– A

I would like to introduce myself as master of the obvious here. Verlander isn’t quite having the first half that he did last year, but he is close. With his win tonight, he is 9-5 with an ERA of 2.58. This grading isn’t about a comparison to last year though, and his numbers stack up against anyone in the American League, and all of baseball. He leads the league in innings pitched, and complete games, picking up his 5th of the season tonight.He also leads the A.L in strikeouts and is 4th in ERA. Every time he takes the mound, you expect him to walk off in the 9th inning victorious, and there isn’t a lot of guys in baseball you can say that about.

Doug Fister– C+

It really has been a mixed bag for Fister in 2012. He has pitched really well for the most part, with the exception of his past couple starts. But part of being a good pitcher is staying on the mound. I’m not saying it’s his fault. If he was healthy, I have no doubt this grade would be higher. The Tigers just haven’t gotten the contribution they needed from Fister so far for a variety of reasons. In 10 starts this season, Fister has the highest WHIP of his career, and it’s not really all that close. His 4.61 ERA is largely inflated because of a couple of starts, but in general, he hasn’t been able to put together a real good stretch of games. Consistency will be the key in the 2nd half for Fister, and will be key to the Tigers success.

Max Scherzer– B-

Scherzer has some ugly numbers going for him. His 4.98 ERA being one of them. Like Fister, consistency has been an issue for Scherzer on the season, but as of late, he has been much better. In May and June, Scherzer has an ERA just below 4.00, his month of April hurting his overall numbers terribly. Scherzer leads the American League with 11.4 K/9, and has posted the highest QS% of his career so far. His FIP and xFIP are significantly better than his ERA suggesting that bad luck has something to do with his inflated ERA. He is on pace to win around 15 games, and I think if we said that at the start of the year, we would all say Max is doing his job.

Drew Smyly– C+

I would imagine that some people are going to disagree with me on this one. I don’t grade on performance versus expectations. If I did, Smyly would’ve gotten a better grade since most people don’t expect much out of a rookie that wasn’t hyped a bunch before the season. Smyly has been a different pitcher his last 7 starts as opposed to his first 6. That is to be expected. His 3-3 record with an ERA of 4.54 is okay. He is prone to giving up the long ball, but his K/BB rate is strong. One issue I have with Smyly, and I realize they are watching his pitch count, is his efficiency. He is averaging just over 5 innings per start, and I would like to see that go up in the 2nd half.

Rick Porcello– C+

Porcello has really come on strong in his last few starts, helping out an ERA that now sits at 4.35. He has been even more inconsistent overall than Scherzer and Fister, at least as far as QS% is concerned. Porcello has registered just 9 of those in his 16 starts. His numbers across the board scream mediocrity though, even with the recent improvements. It is pretty clear at this point, that a big leap isn’t coming from Rick Porcello, even if there is some minor improvement in some areas. I think if he continues as he has been this season, Tigers fans can be happy with that.

Well, those are my grades. How about yours?