Detroit Tigers: Internal Starting Rotation Candidates

Aug 4, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) pitches in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 4, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) pitches in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Tigers fans have seen eight different starters in 2016. The rotation for is mostly set with Justin Verlander, Michael Fulmer, Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris. Here are the options for the fifth spot.

Detroit Tigers players kick off a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on Tuesday night. Matt Boyd is slated for the first game of the crucial series, while Justin Verlander will pitch in the finale against Ervin Santana on Thursday evening.

The opponent for Minnesota starter Jose Berrios in the middle game has yet to be determined.

Verlander, Fulmer, Boyd and Norris give Detroit four solid starters, but the need for a fifth starter remains. It is likely that the fifth starter will make more than one start.

Here are some of manager Brad Ausmus’ options down the stretch.

Jordan Zimmermann

Zimmermann won’t pitch against the Twins, However, if he is able to show some well in a simulated game set for Tuesday, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him back in the rotation before the seasons comes to a close.

The Tigers need the pitcher who allowed two runs in first 33 innings, not the one who has been tagged for 12 runs, 10 hits, five home runs and five walks in his last 2.2 innings.

Buck Farmer

Farmer made 20 starts for Triple-A Toledo this season, pitching to a 3.96 ERA in 100 innings. Additionally, the former top prospect posted 93 strikeouts compared to just 28 walks over the same span.

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Of course, the 25-year-old has also spent a significant amount of time with Detroit this season. Farmer’s ERA in 24.1 innings with the Tigers is 4.07.

In the six appearances where he’s logged more than two innings, Farmer owns a 4.48 ERA.

While that number won’t win any Cy Young award, it remains a solid stat. This is especially true when considering some of the ugly ERA numbers Tiger starts have posted in 2016.

Anibal Sanchez

It’s been a tale of two pitcher with Anibal Sanchez in the second half.

In three of his first four starts, the veteran allowed just 11 hits and two walks in 21 innings pitched. He struck out 20 over the same span.

That’s the good.

The bad is allowing 19 runs in 20.1 innings over four July starts. Sanchez also allowed 13 hits, nine runs, three walks and two home runs during his last starts.

If the Anibal Sanchez who allowed four hits and a run while striking out 10 over eight innings against the Mets shows up, Detroit will be in excellent shape and won’t need another starting pitcher. However, if Sanchez continues to allow an unsightly amount of base runners to cross home plate, the Tigers could be in trouble.

Mike Pelfrey

Like Sanchez, Pelfrey has been up and down this season. The starting pitcher’s numbers this season have been both encouraging and unsightly.

Detroit Tigers
Jul 31, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey (37) pitches in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

The former Met pitched to a respectable 3.99 ERA in six July starts. What’s more, he’s allowed two runs or fewer in nine starts this season.

However, his unsightly stats are just that—unsightly.

While Pelfrey has kept the ball in the yard with just 1.12 home runs allowed per nine inning rate (Max Scherzer’s number sits at 1.11), the veteran is allowing too many base runners.

Of all starters with at least 100 innings pitched, Pelfrey owns the worst WHIP in the league. Only Jered Weaver has a higher SIERA than the former first-round draft pick.

Bullpen Game

This probably won’t happen, but the Tigers have enough pitching depth to get by for a game in a game using strictly relievers.

In Farmer, Blaine Hardy and Kyle Ryan, Ausmus has a number of relievers he can turn to for multiple innings. Sanchez and Pelfrey could also be used as both own solid numbers as relievers.

Next: Justin Upton Catching Fire at the Right Time

Though the sample sizes are small for both, but the fact remains that the two have solid SIERA numbers (3.79 and 3.99 respectively) when coming out of the bullpen.