Most of the starting staff has contributed to the improvement:
- Justin Verlander - 2.62 ERA and 6 quality starts in his last 7 games.
- Armando Galarraga - 2.54 ERA and 4 quality starts in his last 6 starts.
- Kenny Rogers - 1.00 ERA in his last 5 starts, all of them quality starts.
- Jeremy Bonderman - 3.42 ERA in the last 4 games (all QS) before going on the disabled list.
- Nate Robertson - 4.40 ERA in 7 starts (which is better than the 6.60 ERA he had in his first 7).
Galarraga has been a very pleasant surprise this season. His 3.03 ERA would be 5th in the league if he had enough innings to qualify. The problem is that he is not likely to maintain a .212 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) for the rest of the season. His walk rate of 3.66 batters per nine innings is also a concern. I don't expect him to blow up but he is not likely to have anything close to a 3.03 ERA the rest of the way.
The biggest issue for the staff is Bonderman's season ending surgery to correct a circulation problem. Replacing him may be the biggest challenge for the team the rest of the way. Willis is far from being ready to contribute and they have very little pitching depth at Toledo. Eddie Bonine, who makes his second start versus the Padres tomorrow night is the current hope. His first start was less than stellar but he does have excellent control which is something the Tigers have lacked this year. If he fails, Aquilino Lopez (recently optioned to Toledo to stretch out his innings), Casey Fossum or Virgil Vazquez may be next in line.
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. The starters have been excellent for over a month now and, with a relatively easy schedule ahead, they should be in good shape for a while.