Detroit Tigers: Daniel Norris Turning a Corner
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Daniel Norris turned in another solid outing, striking out six while allowing just two earned runs in five innings pitched. He also held Cleveland to just five hits and a walk.
Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has used a number of different starting pitchers this season. Originally expected to rely on a number of starting pitchers behind Justin Verlander, the likes of Jordan Zimmermann, Anibal Sanchez and Mike Pelfrey have all struggled.
This has forced Detroit to rely on the young trio of Michael Fulmer, Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris.
Widely believed to be the future of the Tigers rotation, the three rank second, fourth and fifth on the team in terms of WAR. Only Justin Verlander has a lower SIERA than the young pitchers.
Of the three, Fulmer and Boyd have drawn the most attention. Fulmer is a contender for the Rookie of the Year, the ERA crown and the Cy Young award in the American League. Meanwhile, Boyd put up a 2.56 ERA in 56.1 innings pitched from mid-July to mid-September.
While the two have continued to make an impact, Norris has been the story as of late.
Entering Sunday, the former top prospect hadn’t allowed more than runs in a start this season. While the 23-year-old allowed four runs in five innings against Cleveland, only two of them were earned.
Norris’ run prevention has been solid, but his ability to miss bats has really stood out.
Before Sunday’s game, Norris had the second-highest strikeout per nine innings rate on the team in the second half.
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What’s more, his 8.39 number in the category ranked him ahead of the likes of Gerrit Cole, David Price, Masahiro Tanaka, Johnny Cueto, Julio Teheran, Jose Quintana, Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez and Jake Arrieta in the second half of baseball’s season.
In Norris’ first eight starts, he only struck out more than five batters once. All told, during the stretch, Norris struck out 33 in 38.2 innings pitched.
However, over the pitcher’s last three starts he struck out 24 batters in 17.1 innings pitched. During those same three contests, just four batters reached base via a walk.
Those strikes are partly due to Norris’ ability to effectively mix his pitches, keeping hitters off balance with a mid-90s fastball and some nasty off-speed offerings.
Norris pitching arsenal was on full display in a mid-September start against the Twins. During the outing, he struck out a season-high 11 batters in just 6.1 innings pitched.
While he didn’t put up similarly gaudy numbers in Cleveland, Norris was able to strikeout a number of key batters. The former Blue Jay struck out each of Terry Francona’s two-through-five hitters at least once apiece en route to his third win.
Slowly but surely, we’re starting to see why Norris has the potential to be a front-line pitcher in the Major Leagues.
Role Moving Forward in 2016
With the Tigers in the midst of the pennant race, Detroit will likely continue to lean on the team’s successful starters. That means more starts for the Fulmer, Boyd and Norris behind Verlander.
Next: The Future is Bright for these Tigers Prospects
Should Detroit make it to the postseason, it is very likely that Norris will be in line to be a part of the playoff rotation.