The Detroit Tigers are riding high this spring training with Victor Martinez coming back after a torn ACL injury sidelined him all of 2012. With the team also bringing in Torii Hunter this offseason the offense is on pace to have a historic season in 2013.
However, the Tigers pitching staff does lack one key component that isn’t getting much coverage.
The MLB‘s best pitching staffs are those that can beat you with pitchers from both sides of the mound–a solid left-handed pitcher is a necessity. Currently, the Tigers five starters are all right-handed, and it looks like the team will break Spring Training just like that. Although it may seem like a small feat, it is important because of the many left-handed batters who crush right-handed pitching.
For example, the Tigers are going to see plenty of the Chicago White Sox and slugger Adam Dunn. It’s well-documented that Dunn has trouble with left-handed pitching; however, 296 of his 406 home runs have came against righties. If the Tigers go into a weekend series without a left-handed starter, the opposition will have ample opportunity to gear up with left-handed bats like Dunn.
Justin Verlander is going to get outs no matter who the batter is, but the rotation would be better if they would’ve brought in a left-hander rather than bring back Anibal Sanchez.
Drew Smyly started 23 games for the Tigers last year, and he was productive with a 4-3 record and a 3.99 ERA. With Sanchez starting the season in Detroit, the team simply doesn’t have enough room for the 23-year old Smyly, and he will likely be bumped from the starting rotation until someone goes down.
The Tigers are still the favorites to win the American League Central and compete for another American League pennant, but Jim Leyland and company may run into a few issues with such a right-handed heavy starting rotation.