Here we go again with the wishful thinking. We've already looked at a dream Detroit Tigers lineup, so why not a rotation as well? Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris has already identified pitching as being the club's priority this offseason, especially after the unsurprising departure of ace Eduardo Rodriguez. What if the money to construct a perfect rotation fell magically into Scott Harris' lap and he could bring it in comically large black briefcases to a few of the many pitching free agents tomorrow? Which of the Tigers currently contracted to the team would be able to make it onto the list? In no particular order, here are five pitchers who would make up a dream rotation for the Tigers.
Of all of the young talent in Detroit, Tarik Skubal deserves a close watch. With 70 fewer innings pitched than most frequently seen Tiger Eduardo Rodriguez, Skubal managed to accumulate a higher fWAR: 3.3 to Rodriguez's 3.0. His sample size might be smaller (he didn't make a start for the Tigers until July as he recovered from flexor tendon surgery), but all of his numbers are still mind-boggling. He finished with a 2.80 ERA over 80 1/3 innings pitched, and struck out 102 batters for a K rate of 32.9%. He also only walked hitters 4.5% of the time and gave up 0.45 HR/9. These are ridiculous numbers that would've racked up a lot of Cy Young votes if he pitched a full season.
With Skubal, dreams and reality come the closest to aligning for the Tigers. He's a dominant, young lefty who, despite being arbitration eligible this year, Detroit should be able to retain without completely breaking the bank. They'll lean on Skubal in a big way next season as part of the real life rotation, whether or not Rodriguez ends up coming back. That might even be an understatement, as it wouldn't be a surprise if the he was the Tigers' opening day pitcher. All fingers are crossed that 2023 was just a preview for a full season of excellence in 2024.