Detroit Tigers: 5 Starting Pitching Questions

2 of 6

Mar 25, 2015; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Alfredo Simon (31) throws a pitch before the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

#5: Will Alfredo Simon Last in the Rotation All Year?

I poised the question to the MCB staff at the start of Spring Training about Alfredo Simon, asking if he would win the fifth starter. The question was of course yes because the Tigers gave up some good players (Eugenio Suarez and Jonathan Crawford) to rent him for at least one year.

Dave Dombrowski made the deal with the Cincinnati Reds hours after sending Porcello to the Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes and a couple minor leaguers. DD filled the starter’s hole with someone who has been a reliever much of his career. His 32 starts last year doubled his previous career high of 16 in 2011 with the Baltimore Orioles.

Simon had an outstanding first half with an ERA hovering below three all the way up until August, earning the first All-Star appearance of his career.  But he was hit hard in August and September, posting a 4.71 ERA down the stretch for a non-contending Cincinnati team.

On the surface you look at it and say the guy he is replacing, Porcello, was an up and down starter for the Tigers for many years and he, like Simon, had a second-half swoon. Still, watching him in Spring Training has not provided anyone with much confidence that he will be equal to what Rick offered. Simon has continued those late season struggles, posting an ERA above 7, in his first four games this March. Although he did likely pitch his best effort thus far yesterday, going six strong innings, allowing five hits on one run, striking out two and walking three batters.

Again, the Tigers paid a heavy price for Simon so they are counting on him to be the #4 or #5 starter this season, but with the youngsters we mentioned above in Ryan, Lobstein and others starting in Toledo and waiting in the wings, his leash might be a little shorter than anyone imagines.