If Justin Verlander is forced to miss the start of the 2014 season, what do the Detroit Tigers do to replace him?
GM Dave Dombrowski announced Thursday that Verlander might not be ready for opening day. Verlander is recovering from core muscle surgery after he suffered an injury in offseason workouts.
If Verlander isn’t ready it will be an obvious loss. Verlander is one of the best pitchers in baseball and has been the Tigers’ Opening Day starter for most of his career. He also hasn’t been on the disabled list at any point in the last eight seasons, but this injury could jeopardize both of those streaks.
Although it would be a significant loss, Tigers fans shouldn’t fret over it. Detroit has the pieces on its roster to overcome a temporary loss like this. The most likely situation would be Max Scherzer taking over as the Opening Day starter and Jose Alvarez becoming the fifth starter until Verlander returns.
Scherzer getting an Opening Day start only seems fitting. The 2013 season was a breakout year for Scherzer in which he went 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts. His efforts earned him his first All-Star game appearance and he won the Cy Young Award. After a performance like Scherzer had last season, he deserves to get an Opening Day start. Verlander and Scherzer are a dominant 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, and either one of them starting on Opening Day gives the Tigers a great chance to win.
The loss of Verlander would create a hole at the back of the rotation, and Alvarez would most likely get the first crack at it. Alvarez is one of the Tigers’ pitching prospects and is considered to be the sixth starter. He was facing an uphill battle to make the Opening Day roster, but now it seems that he has a decent shot at it. He made his first appearance in the majors last season and went 1-5 with a 5.82 ERA in 14 games, including six starts. Alvarez pitched well for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens last season going 8-6 with a 2.82 ERA. He figures to spend the 2014 season going between the Tigers and Mud Hens, but the injury to Verlander could give him a shot at making the Opening Day roster.