What makes a great team? Some say great hitting makes the difference, when others say defense wins championships. Yet others say starting pitching is the key to winning it all. No doubt, all of these parts help win a game or even a championship but starting pitching to me is one of the most important aspects of the game.
It can be argued who has the best starting pitching in Major League Baseball.
Some say the Philadelphia Phillies have the best – it’s hard to argue with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in the lineup. They are all veterans who have pitched in plenty of big games.
Others say the Washington Nationals with the likes of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, who are all still growing as starting pitchers.
Yes, both would be good choices, but it’s awfully hard to argue against the Detroit Tigers, too.
As the tentative fifth starter, Rick Porcello certainly has a lot of upside. I’ve personally been a Porcello “hater” for a while now, but I can understand what some people see in him. Last year the 24-year-old had a record of 10-12 with a 4.59 ERA, which isn’t bad at all considering he would be the last guy in the rotation. If the Tigers got 10 wins out of their fifth starter every year, I’m sure they would be thrilled.
Next up is Max Scherzer, who just signed a one-year deal with the Tigers for the 2013 season earning him $6.7 million. At times in 2012, he was Detroit’s best pitcher, racking up 231 strikeouts at a rate of over 11 per nine innings. He finished the season with a 16-7 record with a 3.74 ERA. On most other teams, he would be a solid number two starter, but it just so happens he’s in Detroit.
Anibal Sanchez had a down year in 2012 after being traded to the Tigers mid-season. He finished with a 4-6 record in Detroit with an ERA of 3.74 in only 12 starts. He was hindered by an injury which I’m sure affected his performance on the field. The Tigers seem to think he will bounce back in 2013 and build off improvements he made at the end of last year.
Doug Fister is one of the most underrated pitchers in all of baseball in my opinion, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he had a great 2013 season. Last year, while going on and off the disabled list, he earned a record of 10-10 with an ERA of 3.45 in only 26 starts. Not only does he have great “stuff”, but he’s a fielder’s dream pitcher. He loves to grab the ball and chuck it – he has to be one of the fastest pitchers in the league when it comes to time between pitches. Believe it or not, that actually helps in the field, where the Tigers need all the help they can get.
Lastly, there’s ace Justin Verlander, whose resume speaks for itself. The 2011 MVP and Cy Young Award winner had an average season last year with a record of 17-8 and a 2.64 ERA. There is no possible way you can understate what he means to this team. He’s the best pitcher in all of baseball, and he’s the majority of the reason why the Tigers have the best starting rotation. He’s the type of pitcher where you almost mark it as a win before he even takes the mound.
The Tigers no doubt have the best rotation in baseball in my eyes, but we have to remember that championships aren’t won on paper. You can have the best-looking team out there, but you still have to play the games – just ask the Miami Marlins.