Note to Jim Leyland: Forget about a five-man starting rotation. Forget about Jeremy Bonderman. Leave Dontrelle Willis in St. Louis. At least for now.
With Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, Rick Porcello and Armando Galarraga, the Detroit Tigers may just have the best four-man rotation in baseball. They are young, to be sure. And they’re not the most consistent starters in the game. Last night’s lackluster performance by ace Verlander is obvious proof of that. But man, oh man, what potential.
Instead of focusing on the strengths of the best four starters in the rotation, the Tigers have been trying to develop a broader rotation that includes some of the higher priced pitchers they wish they never signed. Pay checks should not determine who starts a ball game. Performance should mean everything.
In reality, the drama caused by Willis’s mental problems and erratic behavior and by Bonderman’s never-ending comeback, have seriously disrupted the rhythm of the rotation. It would be better for the starters if they knew with certainty when they were going to pitch. Instead, the Tigers have been throwing different arms into the mix in the hopes that somehow, someway, a fifth or sixth starter is going to rise from the ashes. I’ve got to tell you, I don’t see it happening.
I’d like to see the Tigers move some of the dead weight that is holding down the rotation in pursuit of a left-handed stud in the bullpen. Is there a closer out there with a high salary on a terrible team that might need to tighten its budget? If so, perhaps the Tigers could send Joel Zumaya packing along with a few starters who really have no place on the squad.
The Tigers are in first place for one reason: their starting pitching has been outstanding. But it has become fairly obvious that this team will not go very far in a post season with Zumaya, Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney closing out games. With certain trade deadlines quickly approaching, it’s time for Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski to make a bold move.
The Tigers may be developing the best four-man rotation in baseball. But even that is not enough to win it all.