Detroit Tigers: Pitching Staff Set Up for Promising Future

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Sep 4, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris (44) greets teammates walking out from the bull pen against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 4, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris (44) greets teammates walking out from the bull pen against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Tigers
Aug 6, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Matt Boyd (48) pitches in the second inning against the New York Mets at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Future of the Rotation

In just a few short years, the Detroit Tigers will have a problem on their hands—a favorable problem that is.

While Verlander and Zimmermann will be in the twilights of their respective careers (and hopefully still performing) the team will be ushering in new a group of young starters.

Recent high draft picks Matt Manning, Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser will all likely be making their Major League debuts somewhere between 2018 and 2020.

Additionally, fellow starters Tyler Alexander, Spencer Turnbull and Sandy Baez have a chance to make their first starts for Detroit in the same time period.

Manning, the Tigers’ first-round draft pick in 2016, leads the bunch in terms of upside. The former basketball player struck out 46 while only walking seven in his first 29.1 innings of professional work. Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a plus power curve, Manning has the ceiling of a top-of-the-line ace.

With Manning and Fulmer heading up Detroit’s future rotation, the Tigers have a chance to be special on the pitching side of things.

Norris and Boyd, who showed extremely well as rookies, won’t be the only other rotation candidates to join the two.

Future Rotation Candidates

Burrows, another former first-round pick with a blazing fastball, mixes in two solid off-speed offerings. He pitched to a 3.15 ERA at West Michigan in 2016 and may reach the Majors before the likes of Manning and Funkhouser.

Speaking of Funkhouser, the Louisville product was a first-round pick of the Dodgers in 2015, but returned to school.

He impressed with Connecticut in his first taste of professional baseball, notching a 2.65 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 37.1 innings. The right-hander also held batters to a .246 batting average while only walking eight.

Both Burrows and Funkhouser look like potential mid-rotation starters at the very least.

Other Names to Watch

This is all without mentioning the likes of Alexander, Turnbull, Baez and Artie Lewicki. All four pitchers enjoyed promising campaigns last season.

Alexander and Lewicki, who both reached Erie in 2016, could be the first of Detroit’s next wave of young starters to reach the Majors.

Lewicki posted a 3.48 ERA while striking out 57 batters in 67.1 innings. He also held batters to a .256 batting average while with the SeaWolves.

Additionally, the right-hander excelled as a reliever in college. With a crowded rotation, he could make an impact there early with Detroit.

While he won’t blow hitters away with his fastball, Alexander has excellent control over his pitches. The former second-round pick walked just 20 batters in 136.1 innings last year while holding hitters to a .238 average at the dish.

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