The Detroit Tigers need more from their starting pitchers going forward
The Detroit Tigers need their starting pitchers to eat more innings
This may be hard to believe, but do you remember when the Detroit Tigers had a top 3 bullpen in all of baseball? I do, but that’s just because it was the topic of the first article I ever wrote for Motor City Bengals.
Yes, at one point this season, the Detroit Tigers had a borderline elite bullpen. Guys like Michael Fulmer, Will Vest, Andrew Chafin, and Joe Jimenez headlined a surprisingly good unit. Heck, they were even getting quality innings out of Jacob Barnes for a hot minute.
But those days have long since passed…kind of. Currently, the Tigers bullpen sits at eighth in the league in ERA at 3.41. Their only real loss has been Michael Fulmer, who was traded to Minnesota at the Aug. 2 trade deadline. It’s still a really solid bunch.
However, the starting rotation has not held up its end of the bargain. They are 23rd in ERA and 22nd in innings pitched.
Now some of this is due to the ungodly amount of injuries it has endured, with Matt Manning missing significant time, Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal both undergoing season-ending surgery, and Eduardo Rodriguez missing three months due to personal issues.
But they haven’t been able to go deep into games enough this season. Obviously this is a growing trend across the league, but the Detroit Tigers bullpen is taxed because of it, and has led to some second half regression from guys like Chafin, Alex Lange, and Gregory Soto.
A.J. Hinch has shown that he is not afraid to try to get an extra inning or two out of his starter, even pushing the likes of Manning and Skubal, two young pitchers that are part of this organization’s future. But that hasn’t happened enough, whether it be due to the aforementioned injuries or pitchers not pitching efficiently.
This is why it has become important that the Tigers go shopping for a starting pitcher or two this offseason. With Mize shelved for the entire 2023 season, and Skubal gone for at least a good portion of it, they need a proven veteran who can come in and eat some innings.
The fact that the bullpen hasn’t been a disaster with all the injuries to the rotation shows just how good of a job Chris Fetter and Juan Nieves have done with this group. Some of the starters that have stepped in because of the injuries have also done admirable jobs. Shoutout to Drew Hutchison.
Relievers are highly volatile from year to year, but it appears the Detroit Tigers have some pieces in the long term. Lange, Jason Foley, Will Vest, and others are all going to be around for multiple years. If they can add a starter or two starters that can eat some innings and decrease the likelihood of the bullpen being shot in August, that would give the team a huge boost next year.