The reality is that pitchers like Farmer, Jaye, Lewicki and Bell might not be long-term solutions in the Detroit Tigers rotation.
However, Detroit needs to give them every opportunity to be as 2017 comes to a close.
By the time 2019 rolls around, the Tigers’ rotation will likely feature Franklin Perez, Grayson Long, Beau Burrows and perhaps some combination of Matt Hall, Sandy Baez and Tyler Alexander alongside Fulmer, Norris and Boyd.
Until that time comes when Detroit can start utilizing some of the team’s elite starting pitching prospects on Major League hitters, the team needs starters to bridge the gap.
The Tigers could conceivably fill some of those rotation spots with free agents on one-year deals this winter, but the franchise can’t solely rely on offseason imports.
In a perfect world, one or two of the young starters currently in the rotation show well enough down the stretch to warrant a rotation spot in 2018.
For this hypothetical scenario, we’ll go with Farmer considering he’s flashed the most potential in the Majors this season.
To continue with the perfect-world scenario, Detroit would pencil in Farmer and a free agent starter on a one-year deal—Marco Estrada is an intriguing bounce-back candidate—alongside Fulmer, Norris and Boyd or Zimmermann in 2018.
Ideally, by the time next July rolls around, one of Perez or Long would be ready for the Majors. This would allow general manager Al Avila to flip Estrada for more prospects for sustained long-term success.
All that isn’t a lock to happen though, so Detroit will need its young starts to step up and make a case for sticking around in 2018.