MLB Detroit Tigers

Predicting the Detroit Tigers’ 2014 Starting Rotation

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Predicting the 2014 Detroit Tigers' Starting Rotation

David Manning- USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers have made a name for themselves over the past few years for having dominant starting pitching. Last year, the team’s starters ranked second in the league with 76 wins and fourth in the league with a combined ERA of 3.44. The Tigers have had the AL Cy Young award winner on their team in two of the past three years as well, with Justin Verlander winning it in 2011 and Max Scherzer bringing home the award last year. Verlander is locked in with the Tigers through 2019 and Scherzer will likely receive a long-term deal at the end of this season.

The Tigers' rotation will look a little different than last year with former starting pitcher Doug Fister being shipped off to the Washington Nationals in the offseason. The rotation will now look something like this: Verlander, Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly. Combined with a stellar lineup that should provide the pitching staff with plenty of run support throughout the season, the Tigers should once again have one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball.

The Tigers are playing in what has been a weak AL Central division over the past few years, but the Cleveland Indians and the Kansas City Royals are both on the rise and could give the Tigers a run for the Central Division this year if they let their guard down.

If the starting rotation can stay healthy throughout the season, look for the Tigers to make another run at the World Series in 2014.

Jared Goltz is a writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @jar3d_, or find him on Facebook or Google+

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5. Drew Smyly

David Manning- USA TODAY Sports

Drew Smyly takes Fister’s place in the rotation. He came out of the bullpen for the Tigers in 2013 and did very well in his appearances. Smyly appeared in 63 games, going 6-0 with an ERA of 2.37, and striking out 81 batters in 76 innings pitched. He will be the only left-handed starter in the Tigers’ rotation.

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4. Rick Porcello

David Manning- USA TODAY Sports

Rick Porcello is coming off of a 2013 season in which he went 13-8 with a 4.32 ERA. While this wasn’t the best year of his career, Porcello is still young and has shown a lot of promise for his future. He will be a great No. 4 or No. 5 pitcher for the Tigers this year.

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3. Anibal Sanchez

David Manning- USA TODAY Sports

Anibal Sanchez went 14-8 last year and posted an American League leading 2.57 ERA. Many fans questioned whether or not he was worth the five-year $80 million extension that the team gave him before the start of the 2013 season, and he proved to Tigers fans that the team made a wise decision. With a loaded arsenal of five very good pitches (four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, sinker, slider, changeup) look for Sanchez to give hitters more trouble this season.

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2. Max Scherzer

David Manning- USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, will likely be the No. 2 pitcher in the rotation behind Verlander. He is coming off a career year in which he posted an amazing 21-3 record to go along with a 2.90 ERA and was second in the league with 240 strikeouts. Scherzer started the All-Star game for the American League and pitched a perfect 1-2-3 inning. While it may be hard to replicate his 2013 season, look for Scherzer to have another strong year for the Tigers in 2014.

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1. Justin Verlander

Andrew Weber- USA TODAY Sports

The likely opening day starter and No. 1 pitcher for the Tigers this year is Justin Verlander. Along with Miguel Cabrera, Verlander has become the face of the team’s franchise. He is currently recovering from core muscle surgery that took place on Jan. 9 and is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for the start of the regular season. Verlander will look to bounce back from possibly his worst year of his career, going 13-12 last season.