Detroit Tigers: What The Rotation Should Look Like In 2016


At one point in 2014, the Detroit Tigers boasted a rotation that featured Max Scherzer, David Price, Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander, and Rick Porcello, which made a fall from grace inevitable in 2015.

But few could have predicted the catastrophic demise of Detroit’s rotation, and subsequently, their playoff hopes.

If the Tigers’ faithful are going to witness a return to form in 2016, Al Avila must regard additions to the pitching staff as a pressing matter.

The 2016 Detroit Tigers’ starting rotation should be constructed accordingly:

1. Justin Verlander

Just a few short months ago it would have seemed unreasonable to suggest that Justin Verlander could be the ace on any staff. However, as it stands, Verlander has been one of the lone bright spots during the Tigers’ recent run of mediocrity.

After his ERA got as high as 6.75, Verlander has been outstanding. He is just 2-6 on the year, but his ERA is now down to 3.45 and in his last ten starts the former MVP has allowed more than one run just three times, providing hope for next season.

2. Anibal Sanchez

If Al Avila is smart, Sanchez should not throw another pitch in the 2015 season. Simply put, the Tigers are playing for nothing, other than, perhaps, a misguided sense of pride.

When healthy, Sanchez is an elite pitcher, having proven that when he won the ERA crown in 2013. However, the veteran right-hander has failed to fight off those nagging injuries and it has shown in his numbers.

Throwing him while he was fighting through a rotator cuff strain was a poor decision to begin with, but allowing him to pitch once more in 2015, would be be even worse, and could cost them in 2016 as well. Let Sanchez nurse his wounds, and you have your number two starter going into next year.

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3. Doug Fister

Why not get the band back together? The Tigers were foolish to trade him in the first place, especially considering the return, and they may be able to utilize his services at a bargain rate once more, considering his lackluster 2015 season.

Beyond that, a return to Detroit has to be appealing for Fister who was never as good, consistently, with Seattle, or Washington, as when he was in Detroit.

Bringing Fister back into the fold may not be a sexy move, but Dave Dombrowski assembled the best pitching staff in baseball last year, and Detroit got swept in the first round. Sometimes the smart move is better than the big move, and saving money by signing the Doug Fisters of the world, rather than someone like Johnny Cueto, allows Avila to field a better all-around team.

4. Mark Buehrle 

Say whatever you want about Mark Buehrle, but the numbers speak for themselves. Is signing the 36 year-old veteran going to set the world on fire? No. But consider this: In 2015, pitching in one of the least pitcher friendly parks in baseball, the crafty left-hander is 13-6 with a 3.60 ERA, and will likely pitch over 200 innings for the 15th season in a row.

Lack of stability, and depth, crippled Detroit’s rotation in 2015, while Dayton Moore got nine wins and 3.26 ERA out of Chris Young in Kansas City.

Even if Buehrle was regressing rapidly, he would, at the very least, provide a steady veteran presence, and keep Detroit from having to rely on the likes of Buck Farmer and Kyle Ryan. However, not only will he will provide that, but he is also pitching some of the best baseball of his career. The 3.39 ERA he posted in 2014 was the lowest his ERA has been since 2005.

Buehrle was exactly what the Tigers needed in 2015, and he should be on the team in 2016.

5. Daniel Norris

Unlike Matt Boyd, Daniel Norris should be in the major leagues. The left-hander is Detroit’s best prospect, at any position, and has shown that he has the ability to pitch at the highest level, as long as he can develop some consistency.

Placing Norris in the fifth spot in the rotation allows him to pitch without significant added pressure, while giving him the opportunity to learn the craft from good, experienced starting pitchers.

Dombrowski’s super-star rotation could only do so much without a reliable bullpen, and the Royals have shown that you can be highly successful without a true number one guy. This rotation, with Norris in the fifth slot, features a mix of righties, and lefties, and provides Detroit with stability, as well as depth, considering Michael Fulmer is waiting in the wings.

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