Alex Wilson, Ryan Carpenter, Matt Boyd, Daniel Norris, and Travis Wood will compete for spots in the Detroit Tigers rotation this spring.
Seemingly everyone wants to be a Detroit Tigers starting pitcher this spring. Alex Wilson said last Thursday that he wants to start, according to The Detroit News. The 31-year old right-hander faces younger and more experienced starters than him.
So far, only the top three spots are locks. Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmerman and Mike Fiers will most certainly be in the rotation when manager Ron Gardenhire releases his depth chart. Aside from them, two spots are open.
Wilson hopes to get one spot. He’ll be competing against front runners Matthew Boyd and Daniel Norris; as well as challengers Ryan Carpenter and Travis Wood. All four are younger than Wilson, and two have been in the Tigers rotation regularly the past two seasons.
Those two are Boyd and Norris, who dropped off a little last season. Both had ERAs above five. Both also could be in for a rebound year.
The reason: Their Fielding Independent Pitching were lower than their ERAs last season. FIP is a measure that takes the other eight players out of the equation, showing what pitchers truly do against batters. When lower than ERA, it could be an indicator they’ll perform better the next season.
Boyd’s ERA was 5.27, while his FIP was 4.51 in 2017. Norris’s was 5.31 and 4.39, respectively. While both FIPS may not jump off the page, they may indicate improvement in 2018.
Then, there’s Carpenter. He’s been a minor-league mainstay, and has improved over his two years in AAA. He’ll likely play in the majors sometime this season, if he doesn’t make the opening day roster.
And finally, there’s Travis Wood. The 2016 World Series Champion is a long-shot to make the rotation, but has a real shot at making the bullpen. Wood regressed big time in 2017, but may succeed when he reunites with his former pitching coach, Chris Bosio.
All five Tigers will probably have an opportunity to start, due to injury or necessity. Zimmerman is still out with a neck injury, and it’s unclear if he’ll play when the season opens. Fulmer has also been down a couple times through his career.
The Tigers rotation has depth, and it will be interesting to see how they’ll do.