Do the Detroit Tigers have enough pitching depth?
Can the Detroit Tigers make it through the season with the pitching they currently have?
One of the most common phrases you may hear among front office types is you can never have enough starting pitching depth. While it sounds cliché, it's the absolute truth. Last season, the Tigers used 17 different starting pitchers. Only one pitcher threw over 100 innings, and that was Tarik Skubal, who also finished with the staff's best fWAR at 2.9.
This 2023 projected starting rotation is a fascinating mix of pitchers, with something to prove. Michael Lorenzen is looking to prove to the rest of the league he is a starter. Both Matthew Boyd and Spencer Turnbull are coming back from injuries. Matt Manning looks to be the homegrown starter to break through, and Eduardo Rodriguez looks to bounce back after dealing with personal issues in 2022.
For Boyd, one stat that stands out in spring training, and that is K rate. He had the highest at 42%, which is encouraging, as he was able to use his changeup effectively to generate swings and misses and getting batters out in front of that pitch.
Joey Wentz, who will be starting in place of Lorenzen, will be among one of the starters that A.J. Hinch will call upon. Tyler Alexander, who has split time between the bullpen and the rotation over the last several seasons, may get a few spot starts.
To start or not start
One of the decisions that is coming out on Wednesday is the final bullpen spots. More than likely, Trey Wingenter and Chase Shreve will make the 26-man roster, which means Detroit will have to make room on their 40-man roster.
That leaves Beau Brieske and Garrett Hill. Both of them during the spring have been used in the bullpen. While both have some nice spikes in velocity, they were inconsistent. Hill's spike curve does have nice shape and can be effective to generate swings and misses when it's on. Both could start the season in Toledo, which could benefit Detroit long term.
Which leaves us with Rule 5 pick Mason Englert. His Statcast data, similar to Boyd, was good, considering the highest level he has pitched was Double-A. He had good swing and miss action on his pitches and was efficient on throwing strikes. In one of his final appearances of the spring against Tampa, he threw 25 pitches, 21 for strikes. He was a starter in the Rangers system, there could be a possibility he could see sometime in the rotation this season.
Down in the minors
Outside of potentially Brieske and Hill on the 40-man roster, there is Alex Faedo and Rony Garcia. Faedo, who is coming back from a hip injury, looks to regain some of the form he had in a few spot starts last season.
As for Wilmer Flores, who is the third ranked prospect in the Tigers system according to MLB Pipeline, if he can continue to progress on working on his third pitch, a changeup, and continue to build his stamina, Detroit could have another starter to count on. When I spoke to him in spring training, he said that working on his endurance was one of his main focuses this past off-season.
Reese Olson, who made the 40-man roster, will start the season on the IL. He, like Flores, does carry some reliever risk to his profile.
Judging the way Scott Harris has been using the waiver wire since he has arrived, more than likely, we could see several other arms that have veteran experience make a spot start or two. Chance Kirby under the radar, put up some good numbers at Double-A last season. It will be interesting to watch if he can continue to be effective.