After taking a couple days off from the offense/defense, we start in on the pitchers. What was a considerable strength as a top 3 rotation last year before the Tigers even added David Price, has seen turnover with Max Scherzer leaving as well as the trade of Rick Porcello. The team welcomes in to the rotation Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene. Here’s a look at your starters…
David Price – Acquired in the trade that sent starter Drew Smyly to Tampa, Price is a hard throwing lefty who eats up innings. Price’s numbers with Detroit were a bit inflated from three starts where he allowed 8, 5, and 5 runs; however I think his addition could have been looked at as a failure as everyone was expecting the 2012 Cy Young award winner David Price. The other part of the perceived struggles was the news that he was a bit distraught from being traded and that he didn’t want to be in Detroit. I he’s adjusted to the idea now and from all accounts, enjoying his spring with the team.
It’s going to be an interesting year for Price as he enters in to his last year under contract and ideally you’d think he’d perform well being in a contract year, however I’d take his career average of 16-9, with a 3.21 ERA, 226 innings pitched 1.142 WHIP, and 8.5 K/9 rate.
Justin Verlander – Everyone is aware of Verlander’s struggles in 2014, from velocity drop, to ERA spike. A lot of fans and baseball experts are banking on the off-season core surgery (and not Kate Upton) as being the culprit, where JV couldn’t complete his typical intense off-season throwing program.
He’s come to camp with something to prove this season where he added 25 pounds of muscle and had a normal off-season program. All reports point to a better curve ball so far this spring, although I haven’t heard a lot about his velocity yet.
I’m not expecting the JV of 2010-2011, however there has to be improvement over last year and am banking on an ERA in the low to mid-3’s with an improved WHIP and strikeout rate.
Anibal Sanchez – Sanchez sat out down the stretch with a strange pectoral issue that we can hope is behind him now as his 2014 season was on pace to be better than his career averages. Anibal will be working the rust off early in spring, so wouldn’t be overly concerned over the couple of earned runs he’s let up and fully expect a double digit win season, ERA in the low to mid-3’s in about 180 innings of work and a solid WHIP. I do hope to see his strike out rate increase as there was a drop off in 2014 from his 2013 career high of 10/9
Alfredo Simon – Acquired from Cincinnati in the off-season for Eugenio Suarez and minor leaguer Jonathan Crawford, Simon mostly a reliever for most of his career, stepped up and gave an All-Star caliber first half of last season. As fans we hope for a first half of the season from the 34-year old Simon vs. a second half Simon as Simon’s numbers skyrocketed after the break. A 2.70 first half ERA led way to a 4.52 ERA in the second half, average against went from .219 to .282 and OPS from .637 to .763, while his WHIP increased from 1.046 to 1.444. I’m concerned!!
Simon has shown solid numbers as a reliever in both 2012 and 2013 where he posted a 2.78 ERA in 99 games in tough ballpark, but I have to believe he just wore down least season as 196 innings is by far the most work he’s had in any season of his career.
Shane Greene – Greene, a 26-year old right handed pitcher was acquired from the Yankees in a 3-team trade in the off-season where Detroit sent Robbie Ray and a minor league to Arizona.
Greene, a rookie last year looked solid with a 3.78 ERA in 14 starts with a 5-4 record with a 1.398 WHIP. He walked 3.3 per 9 and struck out 9.3 per 9 and for pitching some games in Yankee stadium was able to keep the ball in the park for the most part with 8 homers in 78.2 innings of work.
Greene’s spring has gotten off to a rocky start, but it was just one appearance where he gave up 3 earned and 6 hits in 2 innings.
This is a mixed bag as I think there should be a lot more concern then I’m hearing from the media. Price will be great, but I have questions around the other four starters…
Verlander – Can he return to at least some form of his better years? Seems that way
Sanchez – What was with the injury, can he stay healthy? Seems like he’ll return to normal
Simon – Can he handle the workload of a 4th starter? I don’t believe so
Greene – I like the kid, but is he ready to jump but is he ready for 140 innings or more in the Major’s? Seems like it…
With these questions and just the eyeball test, we can probably agree that the rotation isn’t as strong as it has been in the past and we’ll need help defensively and offensively more than in the past
On to relievers (sigh)…