Sunday, May 09, 2010

Tigers Starters Need to Get Going Fast

In case you haven't noticed, the Tigers starting pitchers have been bad this year.  In fact, they are dead last in the American League with a 5.66 ERA.  They have been been bailed out by big rallies and strong relief pitching in the early going but they can't rely on that all year long.  The Tigers just completed a 1-4 road trip where they received little help from starters.  Clearly, the rest of the team isn't going to pick up the starters game after game of bad starts.  The starters need to get going soon.  The pitcher by pitcher run down follows:

Like last year, Justin Verlander is showing signs of putting things together after an awful start to the season.  He has a 4.50 ERA and 42/16 K/BB ratio in 42 innings but has allowed only four earned runs in his last three starts.  The biggest concern with him now is his inefficiency, as he has only pitched into the seventh once.  They need their ace to do better than that.

Rick Porcello has not pitched quite as badly as his numbers - a 7.50 ERA and 46 hits in 30 innings.  He has been victimized by poor defense and a good number of ground ball singles but he has certainly been a disappointment.  He has allowed five or more runs in each of his last four starts.  Teams don't win many games where their starter does that.

Max Scherzer has poor numbers across the board - a 6.81 ERA, four walks per nine innings and six homers in 37 innings.  Even his strikeout rate (6.1 per nine innings) is way down from last year (9.2).  In his last three starts, he has allowed 21 runs and 27 hits in 13 innings.  He's been a huge disappointment.

Surprisingly, Dontrelle Willis has been their most consistent starter compiling a 3.99 ERA so far.  He has three quality starts and has allowed three runs or fewer in all but one of his starts.  His control is much better than it was the last two years but his 21/15 k/BB ratio is far from stellar.  Still, most Tigers fans would be thrilled if he kept pitching at this level all year.

Jerry Bonderman has a 5.74 ERA and was saved from a 7.14 ERA when his awful start on Friday night got erased by the postponement.  He has his usual good peripherals - a 21/9 K/BB ratio and just two homers in 26 2/3 innings.  However, as is also his custom, he has been pitching poorly with men on base which is seen in his 51.1% left on base percentage.  In most instances, we would view good peripherals, a low LOB% and a high ERA as bad luck and an indication that his ERA will soon improve.  However, in Bonderman's case, we know that this all too familiar pattern will not right itself very easily. 

It's never a good idea to have knee jerk reactions early in the season but I think it has reached the point where the starting pitching has to be considered a real concern.  The Tigers have somehow managed to go 17-14 with the worst starting pitching in the league.  However, the starters will need to carry their own weight soon or it's going to be a long season.


  1. Kinda weird how Willis only seems to get sick on days he's scheduled to pitch, though.

  2. I noticed that too and was wondering at first whether he was really sick. However, they did say later that he had a fever of 102.


  3. I'd heard that about Willis, too.

    HUGE steps in the right direction for Porcello and Bonderman today!



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