Ervin Santana is a roller coaster as a starting pitcher, but if there is any team that is used to roller coaster pitchers it is the Detroit Tigers. Also a roller coaster is better than a broken ride which is what the Tigers currently have in their rotation. The plan as it stands is to slide Rick Porcello up and move Drew Smyly into the rotation; which is fine except that Smyly is now more of a bullpen pitcher, and we have seen what a disruption it causes trying to stretch an arm back out into a starter’s role. It is easier and better for everyone if the Tigers just go ahead and get a veteran pitcher to serve in that role.
Now why the Tigers traded Doug Fister in the first place to create this problem is beyond me, but by signing Santana they can get a pitcher who is used to eating innings the same way Fister has in Detroit the last few years and keep Smyly in the bullpen where he has been one of the most valuable pieces. The Tigers didn’t completely solve their bullpen woes, especially in middle innings where Smyly shined so it makes no sense to force him out of that role into one where he would be on pitch limits and be an average starter at best when he could be the dynamic arm in the pen the Tigers need. Plus Ervin Santana is affordable compared to some of the higher priced options available.
The Tigers made a mistake by trading Fister, but they can correct some of that mistake by signing Santana and allowing Smyly to stay in the bullpen. It will be a big boost to both the starting rotation and bullpen even if Santana doesn’t match some of his career years, and if he does the Tigers will once again have the best rotation in baseball.