Detroit Tigers’ Starting Rotation Poised to Make History in 2014
In 2013, the Detroit Tigers‘ starting rotation accomplished something that hadn’t been done in the American League since 1977. They had two pitchers, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez, with an ERA below 3.00 and more than 200 strikeouts. The last pair of AL teammates to do that was Nolan Ryan and Frank Tanana for the 1977 California Angels (now Los Angeles Angels). No team in MLB history has had three pitchers with those numbers, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility for the Tigers’ three-headed monster of Scherzer, Sanchez and Justin Verlander to make history this season.
What seems almost assured, though, is for the Tigers to have two pitchers, Scherzer and Verlander, do it again this season, which would make them the first Major League team to do it in back-to-back years since the San Francisco Giants in 1968 and 1969, and the first AL team since the Philadelphia Athletics (now Oakland Athletics) in the 1904 and 1905 seasons, which stands as the only AL team to do it in consecutive years. It would also be just the 22nd time in Major League history and only the ninth time in AL history. If you’re wondering, the record is five straight seasons when the Los Angeles Dodgers did it in 1962-1966.
Due to Verlander’s uncharacteristic 2013 campaign, the Tigers weren’t able to become the first team with three pitchers to post those numbers, but his 3.46 ERA was good enough to make the 2013 Tigers the second team in MLB history with three pitchers with a ERA below 3.50 and more than 200 strikeouts. The only other time that feat was accomplished was in 1967 when Dave Boswell, Dean Chance and Jim Kaat did it for the Minnesota Twins.
For the Tigers to become the second AL team with two starters to post a sub-three ERA and fan more than 200 hitters, Scherzer and Verlander simply need to continue at their current pace, which seems almost guaranteed. To accomplish the other feats given, Sanchez will have to come off the DL and post a career-best strikeout rate — but don’t hold your breath on that one.