Sep 15, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Alfredo Simon throws a pitch against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
If the Detroit Tigers sign Max Scherzer in free agency, the Detroit Tigers will have to move a starter to the bullpen or to another team. If the Detroit Tigers move a starter to the bullpen in 2015, it will not be Justin Verlander, but Alfredo Simon.
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Some of Verlander’s struggles can be attributed to his core surgery prior to the 2014 season. In the first half of the year, he had a 4.88 ERA and 1.457 WHIP. In the second half, Verlander’s ERA was 3.97 with a 1.299 WHIP. Those numbers still aren’t very good, but they are better. Verlander’s durability is not an issue innings wise over the season, but he showed signs of fatigue during games in 2014. If you want to make Verlander an extended relief ace, the playoffs (if he struggles as a starter during the 2015 regular season) are the time to do it, not the regular season.
The Tigers acquired Alfredo Simon from the Cincinnati Reds after they traded Rick Porcello to the Boston Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes. Simon is assumed to be a starter for the Tigers in 2015, but he has only started in the Major Leagues for one full season: 2014. Simon started the year 12-3 with a 2.70 ERA in the first half, but ended with a 3-7 record and a 4.52 ERA in the second half. Simon pitched 116.2 innings in the first half of 2014, exactly 1 inning more than his previous career high.
Simon made 16 starts for the Baltimore Orioles in 2011 and ended the year with a 4.90 ERA and a 1.452 WHIP. That year he pitched 115.2 innings, but struggled in both halves of the year with a 4.85 ERA in the first half and a 4.92 ERA in the second half.
Simon has also been successful as a reliever with the Cincinnati Reds. In 2012, Simon served as a middle reliever with most of his appearances in the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings. He posted a 2.66 ERA with a 1.426 WHIP. The WHIP is high, but Simon strands a lot of baserunners. In 2013, Simon played the same role with a 2.87 ERA and a 1.072 ERA. The difference was that Simon gave up 8 home runs in 87.2 innings compared to 2 in 61.0 innings in 2013. Simon surrendered 22 home runs in 2014 as a starter.
Long story short, if the Tigers sign Max Scherzer or if Simon struggles in the first half of the season, he will go to the bullpen, not Verlander.