Detroit Tigers: What will the starting rotation look like this season?

The Detroit Tigers have plenty of options in their starting rotation and with only a few openings, there are bound to be some players left for other roles. Could the Tigers get creative to fit more players into roles where they could excel?

Kenta Maeda poses during Detroit Tigers Photo Day.
Kenta Maeda poses during Detroit Tigers Photo Day. / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

With new additions to the team and players from last season finding new beginnings, there are some questions about the Tigers' starting rotation. There are some locks that we already know, but a few back-end spots remain open with plenty of options to fill them.

What we know already

So far, Tarik Skubal has already been announced as the Opening Day starter for the Tigers. The ace has been crowned. We also know that the new addition and big contract-getter Kenta Maeda will hold down a rotation spot. Maeda signed a two-year, $24 million deal with the team over the offseason, and is poised for the number two spot in the rotation.

Fellow newcomer Jack Flaherty looks to bounce back after a rough year with the Cardinals and Orioles where he posted a 4.99 ERA. Flaherty has the potential to come back, but it has been a while since he has succeeded. In 2019 Flaherty put together a 2.75 ERA, and in 2021, he had a 3.22 ERA. It has been an up-and-down career for Mr. Flaherty, and the Tigers hope for one of the up years.

The Detroit Tigers still have decisions to make about their rotation throughout Spring Training.

Who else is in play?

Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo, and Reese Olson look to battle for the final two spots in the rotation. With two of these players presumably being left out of the rotation, they will either fill bullpen roles or be a spot starter that bounces between Detroit and Toledo.

Casey Mize is looking to bounce back from a few injuries this season. Mize has undergone Tommy John surgery and also had a back issue during his recovery from that injury. He started a Spring Training game already this year and looks to make a full comeback in the rotation. Reese Olson had a good season for the Tigers last year and looks to grab the final rotation spot this season to build off that success. Olson had an ERA under 4.00 last year, and pitching gurus fell in love with his slider. His 1.12 WHIP and 111 ERA+ show that he had command of the zone, and was an above average pitcher for the squad.

The outsiders appear to be Matt Manning and Alex Faedo. Manning has struggled to find his groove throughout his injury-riddled career. It seems that every time the guy gets hot, he takes a comebacker off the leg, or pulls a muscle. The kid can't catch a break.

When he does pitch, Manning is respectable. He pitched to the tune of a 3.58 ERA last year with a 1.04 WHIP and 124 ERA+ which is a good season for a back-end starter. Alex Faedo just simply hasn't been that good. Last season, he had a 4.45 ERA and struggled with the long ball. It would be challenging to make a case for Faedo to creep into the rotation, especially to start the season.

Final Prediction

My thoughts are rather interesting on this matter. A.J. Hinch seems to enjoy the analytics and new school thinking. Judging by last season, the coaches are worried about the caseload for these young pitchers. This is why I believe a six-man rotation would be best suited for the Tigers. You have young pitchers who need to get back into the swing of things and could benefit from an extra day off like Flaherty and Mize, a young "ace" in Skubal who had his workload predetermined last year, and an aging Kenta Maeda who I am sure would not mind an extra day off.

For that reason, I say the final rotation is Tarik Skubal, Kenta Maeda, Reese Olson, Matt Manning, Jack Flaherty, and Casey Mize.

The Tigers have the perfect situation and rotation setup to test out a prolonged six-man rotation, and I think these players could benefit from a bit of an experiment since they don't have to worry much about contending for a championship this year.