Estrada, 35, is coming off his worst season as a starter. He currently boasts a 5.75 ERA, with a 5.36 FIP and a 5.44 SIERA. His 6.56 K/9 is the second lowest of his career, and his 3.25 BB/9 is the second highest. It’s safe to say it hasn’t been his year.
However, Estrada was a solid back of the rotation starter prior to that, even posting an All-Star caliber season in 2016. He has long been a fly-ball pitcher, which has not served him well in Milwaukee and Toronto – two notorious fly-ball friendly parks.
Comerica is much different, and while I don’t expect Estrada to suddenly become a stud with the switch, it won’t hurt. CoPa has a HR park factor of 0.847, the 24th lowest in the major leagues. That means the park favors pitchers with regards to home runs, by a fairly substantial margin.
His velocity dip is no doubt a concern, and is likely contributing to his dip in strikeouts. At 35, it’s possible age is catching up with Estrada, who has thrown over 1,200 big league innings. It comes with risk, but if the Tigers are willing to gamble that a change of scenery could squeeze some more value out of the veteran, he could be a nice No. 5 starter for a half season.
There are a fair amount of similarities between Estrada and Mike Fiers, and Fiers ended up having a very solid year in the Motor City. Perhaps Estrada will be Fiers 2.0.