The Detroit Tigers are going to need some starting pitching depth
The Detroit Tigers had an otherworldly amount of injuries in the starting rotation during the 2022 season—so much so, that they tied a major league record by using 17 different starting pitchers in one season. Despite the newfound depth they discovered, that’s not a recipe for long term success.
Several of those injuires will carry over into the 2023 season. Casey Mize will likely miss the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June, and Tarik Skubal will likely miss a good chunk of the year as well. There’s also injury concerns with Spencer Turnbull, Matt Manning and Beau Brieske.
Point being, the Detroit Tigers are going to have to add some starting pitching depth this offseason. They will need at least one, probably two. Fortunately, there are many good options, both in short-term deals, or if they decide to go the long-term route.
But as we saw in Scott Harris’ tenure in San Francisco, he’s not much of a long-term deal guy, at least not when it comes to starting pitching. For the 2021 Giants team that won 107 games, Kevin Gausman and Alex Wood were both signed to one-year deals, and Anthony DeSclafani was signed to a three-year deal.
So for this piece, we’re going to focus on some free agent starting pitchers that the Detroit Tigers could sign to short-term deals. Let’s get started.
Three of the four pitchers on this list are former Giants, and thus pitchers that Scott Harris is familiar with. The first is Johnny Cueto, who turned back the clock about 10 years this season with the White Sox. In 158.1 innings, he had a 3.35 ERA with a 3.80 FIP with a strikeout to walk ratio of 3.09. That innings pitched stat would have led the Tigers by quite a bit.
Cueto spent six years in a Giants uniform, with the last few years being marred by injuries. But in 2022, he proved that he can still be effective when healthy.
He’s never been a high strikeout guy, being more of a pitch-to-contact type of pitcher. But he’s always been a low-walks guy too, making him a prime candidate under Harris’ “dominate the strike zone” mantra.
Intrestingly enough, what made Cueto so effective in 2022 was that his chase rate was the highest since 2017. Looking at his Baseball Savant page, he started mixing in his sinker and cutter more, which allowed his changeup—his out pitch—to be more effective.
Cueto will turn 37 in February, so the likelihood of him asking for a long-term deal seems low. Getting him on a one-year deal, perhaps with an option for a second-year, would be a nice pickup for the Detroit Tigers.