Detroit Tigers: Joey Wentz deserves a spot in the 2023 starting rotation

Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers / Duane Burleson/GettyImages

Wentz has figued some things out. It's time the Detroit Tigers reward him.

The Detroit Tigers have a boatload of starting pitching depth thanks to two free agent signings of Matthew Boyd and Michael Lorenzen. They probably could have made a rotation out of what they already had, but they opted to add some veteran presence.

Even with long term injuries to both Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, the Detroit Tigers still have a ton of young starting pitchers, such as Beau Brieske, Alex Faedo, and Garrett Hill. But one guy who's made a ton of progress over the past year is Joey Wentz.

Wentz had Tommy John surgery and missed most of the 2021 season. He started the 2022 season in Triple-A but was pressed into duty for the Tigers after they suffered a bunch of injuries to their starting rotation.

His first start didn't go well. He was wild and couldn't find the strike zone. His next start was going fantastically, then he left the game as he too, was injured.

He eventually came back and made five starts for the Tigers down the stretch. In 26 innings, Wentz had a 1.73 ERA while holding opposing batters to a .161/.255/.312 slash line. In three of the seven total starts Wentz made in the majors in 2022, he didn't allow a run.

He carried that momentum into the Arizona Fall League, where he made three starts and didn't allow a run in 12 innings pitched. After that, the Detroit Tigers decided they had seen enough and pulled him from the AFL.

Wentz has always had the talent. A former competitive balance pick of the Atlanta Braves, he was acquired in the Shane Greene trade at the 2019 trade deadline. After undergoing the aforementioned Tommy John surgery in 2020, it took him a while to get things right again. But so far, it's been worth the wait.

There have been a couple of things that have led to the 25-year-old's rise. The first is that he's throwing more strikes. He's pounding the zone early and getting ahead in counts. He still struggles with walks, but if keeps throwing consistent strikes those will eventually come down.

The other thing is that he's started throwing a cutter. His fastball ranges from 92-94 mph, so he doesn't exactly light up the radar gun. Adding a fourth pitch to his arsenal to go along with his changeup and curveball has really helped him.

If the Detroit Tigers end up trading a starting pitcher, which is a very real possibility, Wentz can slot right in the starting rotation. He's done a lot to improve his game over the past year. He deserves a shot to prove himself.

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