Detroit Tigers' Pitching Rotation Will Feature Three-Headed Monster In 2014 And Hopefully Beyond

By Brad Faber
Rick Osentoski – USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers‘ starting rotation is fronted by three of the AL’s best pitchers in Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez. Therefore, it is quite easy to argue that the Tigers have the best 1-2-3 in all of MLB.

To put it simply, Verlander, Scherzer and Sanchez combined to give the Tigers a three-headed monster that is reminiscent of the trio the Atlanta Braves had in the 1990s with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. Moreover, some have predicted that the Tigers’ three-headed monster will be as formidable as ever in 2014 with Verlander poised for a comeback season based on what he showed in the 2013 playoffs, while Scherzer and Sanchez look to building off career years.

All three of the Tigers’ premier starters have posted ERAs below 3.00 at least once in their careers, and they all have a chance to throw a no-hitter every time they toe the rubber. Actually, Verlander has already thrown two; Sanchez has thrown one and just barely missed his second one last May in a game against the Minnesota Twins. It is only a matter of time before Scherzer throws one, even though he has yet to even throw a complete game in the big leagues — as bizarre as that may sound for a pitcher who posted a 21-3 record last season and brought home the AL Cy Young award.

Verlander and Sanchez are set to be with Tigers for a long time. Prior to the 2013 season, the Tigers locked up Verlander through 2019 and signed Sanchez through 2017. Scherzer is a different story, however.

After the 2013 postseason had concluded, it was immediately rumored that the Tigers were going to “sell high” on Scherzer for three reasons: there is only one year left on his contract, the Tigers already had so much money on their payroll, and the fact that Scherzer is represented by super-agent Scott Boras, who is known for getting his clients top-dollar deals.

However, Doug Fister and Prince Fielder were dealt instead, and it now appears that Scherzer will be staying put — at least for the time being. Due to the fact that the road to a Scherzer extension has now been paved, the Tigers must begin working painstakingly and aggressively to extend him in order to make sure the Tigers have the three-headed monster beyond 2014.

It is also relevant to note that the back end of the Tigers rotation features another two really good pitchers in Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly. Last season, Porcello showed signs that he is finally ready to take his game to the next level, and Smyly was 4-3 with a 3.99 ERA in 18 starts when he last pitched in the Tigers rotation in 2012. He was 6-0 with a 2.37 ERA out of the bullpen last season.

It is very possible that one or both will have a stellar 2014 season and give the Tigers a four- or five-headed monster. However, the first order of business should be to extend Scherzer to ensure that the Tigers at least have the three-headed monster for many years to come.

Brad Faber is a Detroit Tigers writer for Follow him on Twitter, or add him to your network on Google.

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