A bitter cold weekend is forecast and several weeks of winter are still ahead of us up here in the north but all thoughts are warm as we have heard that pitchers and catchers reported to
In that spirit, I will be writing a series of posts previewing the spring training season. I’ll take a look at the positional battles and other things I think we should be watching as the spring progresses. I’ll begin today with the starting pitchers. There are two big questions surrounding the starting staff and they are related. First, there is still some concern in my mind about the health of their big three pitching prospects. Then there is the question as to who will be the fifth starter.
Maybe I’m just being a paranoid Tiger fan fearing the worst but I can’t help but be a little worried about the arms of Jeremy Bonderman (and yes at age 23 he’s still a prospect regardless of his major league experience), Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya. Bonderman ended last season with a sore elbow and Verlander and Zumaya were shut down with tired shoulders. None of these ailments were considered to be serious and all of them are supposedly ready to go but I still want to see what happens when they go all out in the spring games. Any loss of velocity, stiffness, tired arm, discomfort or “dead arm period that every pitcher goes through” should be viewed with suspicion. The good news is the Tigers aren’t letting Bonderman pitch in the World Baseball Classic. I think it will be much better for him if he gets his arm into shape under the eyes of Tiger coaches.
Assuming everyone is in good health, it is a foregone conclusion that Bonderman, Kenny Rogers, Mike Maroth and Nate Robertson will begin the season in the starting rotation. There will be a battle for the fifth starting spot and the three leading candidates seem to be Verlander, Zumaya and Roman Colon. Verlander who posted an ERA of 1.29 in 119 innings with
The second most likely candidate is probably Roman Colon.
Zumaya who is still just 21 would probably need an outstanding spring and failures from Verlander and
If none of the above impress the Tigers enough this March, then the next two candidates are probably Jason Grilli and Wil Ledezma. At 29 years old, Grilli is not much of a prospect anymore but he might get a shot just based on the fact that he was about the only pitcher on the staff with a pulse down the stretch last year. His two decent starts at the end of last season give him a glimmer of hope for this season. After dominating for
There are other starting pitchers in camp but all of them will be pitching in the minor leagues once the regular season starts. Humberto Sanchez and Jordan Tata are two top prospects so it will be very interesting to see how they do as they get ready to pitch most likely for