Detroit Tigers need to keep Reese Olson in the starting rotation.
The Detroit Tigers have gone out and made some moves this off-season. They have looked to bolster their rotation and bring in players who help them round out their rotation. While they are already bringing in right-handed pitcher Casey Mize as he returns from Tommy John Surgery.
Two newcomers will come through the rotation after joining the Detroit Tigers organization. Kenta Maeda signed a two-year contract worth $24 million to join the rotation, providing some stability as a middle-of-the-rotation arm. Maeda has plenty of upside of his own, being someone who can churn out good outings and eat up some innings along the way.
More recently, the Tigers went out and signed Jack Flaherty to a one-year, $14 million contract. It's a move that is going to be make or break. It will provide depth to the organization in the form of Flaherty if he can snap back into shape and get back on track. This would allow him to be a solid addition to the backend of the rotation.
On the flip side, Flaherty could also crash and burn, getting relegated to the bullpen. But, for this piece, let's assume that Flaherty will carve out a role as the fourth starter. With Tarik Skubal leading things in the front, Mize following him up, and Maeda being the no.3 arm in the rotation, Flaherty would make out as the fourth starter.
But who's fifth? Several names could fit into this slot, but only one of them is the right name. Reese Olson should be the team's fifth starter, and it would be absolutely ridiculous not to give him that opportunity. Matt Manning is not the answer. He may get some spot starts, and Detroit should still hold onto him, but he should not be given a spot in the rotation above Olson.
Olson's the guy. He's the one with a future and the one who projects to be a solid addition to the rotation. The Tigers need to allow him to do so again in 2024. His debut in 2023 was masterful. He made 18 starts with three relief appearances for 103.2 innings of work under his belt for the Tigers.
He pitched to a 3.99 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. He walked just 33 hitters while striking out 103 in his time with Detroit. The slider is wicked, and he tunnels well with his whole arsenal. There's room to grow, but as a rookie, he shined when he got the chance, and there is no reason to kick Olson down the depth chart because the team will force Flaherty to eat up innings.
Olson made the most of his first season. He churned out good outings and showed the making of a big-league pitcher. It's something that's worth noting. He has the traits to be a big-league starter and has come a long way since joining the Tigers organization. He was acquired in the Daniel Norris trade and was basically a "free" prospect in a way since Norris has had other stints with the Tigers since then.
He came to Detroit and was able to get acclimated. The 3,000+ RPM breaker is gorgeous and a truly outlier pitch at the big-league level. It'll be his moneymaker. Detroit has to see what they have in Olson, and choosing to trot out Manning over him would be a huge mistake. They need to ride with Olson going into the year. He deserves the opportunity and he proved that during the 2023 season.
Detroit needs to have confidence in Olson. He deserves the chance to prove himself in 2024, and no one should stand in front of him for that fifth rotation spot.