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Tigers’ Potential Pitching Rotation to Start 2020

MLB Trade Deadline 2019

To say that 2019 was a year that Tigers’ fans and players would want to forget would be an understatement. Going 47-114, Detroit had the worst record in baseball by seven games last season. Because of this, there were not many highlight moments for the team.

There are plenty of interesting names on the Tigers’ pitching staff, but many of them are either past their prime or have not had good years in a while. Jordan Zimmerman comes to mind. Because of this, it seems likely that many of the starters on this staff may not be a part of the rotation by the beginning of 2021. That said, this rotation should be better than last season and with all the potential moves, it may even be possible that Detroit fans get to see their top prospect in Casey Mize.

Here is a look at what their rotation may be if the 2020 season is not fully canceled due to COVID-19.


1.) Matthew Boyd

Truthfully, there is no other choice currently on the roster than Matthew Boyd. For the past few seasons, he has also been a target of plenty of trade rumors. Weirdly though, he is far from an ace and more like a third or fourth starter on most teams. This was made pretty evident when he gave up an MLB leading 39 homeruns and struggled with an ERA of 4.56.

Throughout his career, Boyd has never held an ERA below four and only once has it been below a 4.5. This also comes with above-average walks. The main reason the Tigers and other teams like him is that he is a strikeout machine. Last season in only 185.1 innings, Boyd managed to strikeout 238 batters. This also lead him to have only a .247 batting average against. If he can figure out a way to keep the ball in the park and cut down on the walks then he could be quite valuable.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Tiger’s fans may only have about a month left of Boyd before he is shipped off to a contender. They should hope that he brings back a good crop of talent.

2.) Daniel Norris

Even though his record was an atrocious 3-13 last season, Daniel Norris still had a pretty decent season. For starters, he made it through the entire season at the top level and continued to show his potential. Now in his age 27 season, it is time to see if Norris can become the pitcher the Tigers traded for all of those years ago.

Like many of the Tiger pitchers, Norris struggles with the homerun ball. He gave up 25 in only 144.1 innings. He needs to work deeper into games as well. The strikeout numbers are there but currently, not much else has been working for the young lefty. It will be interesting to see if the Tigers try to flip Norris or not considering he is still arbitration-eligible for the 2021 season.

Detriot should hope that he has a solid season either for themselves or so that another team is willing to give up some solid prospects for him.

3.) Ivan Nova

After being unable to find another home, Ivan Nova landed in the AL Central for the second year in a row. He brings stability to a rotation that needs it badly. While never being necessarily top-tier outside of his rookie season back in 2011, Nova has been a workhorse for whatever team signs him.

He does a good job of taking the ball every fifth day and keeping his team in the game. His biggest issue is giving up the long ball. Starting to see a trend? Nova has given up 29, 26 and 30 homers in each of his last three seasons. He also does not strikeout many batters eclipsing 130 strikeouts only twice in his career.

Nova was signed to eat innings and try to keep the Tigers competitive while the prospects mature more. If the Tigers are lucky he gets hot out of the gate and ends up becoming a trade chip.

4.) Michael Fulmer

At one point, fuller seemed to be making his way to an ace type status. Then 2018 hit and 2019 was a wash due to injury. Now he is working on coming back in a big way.

At his best, Fulmer is a guy who gets groundballs and thus outs. He, unlike seemingly everyone else on the staff, does not give up many homeruns and likely never will. That can be extremely valuable to the Tigers. Also while he does not strikeout a ton of batters, he generally keeps his walks down as well. If nothing else this 60 game sprint is a perfect scenario to allow for Fulmer to regain his confidence and pitch at a top-level.

Fulmer is again different in the sense that it seems unlikely that he will have much value trade wise. The Tigers should look to keep him and try to make him an anchor for the young pitchers they have coming up.

5.) Spencer Turnbull

Spencer Turnbull is an interesting and possibly very unlucky pitchers. Last season while having a 4.61 ERA, .267 batting average against, a 1.44 WHIP and striking out almost a batter an inning, Turnbull still lost the most games in baseball. He went 3-17.

The sad thing is that this was his first full season and it might be one that he wants to forget. Turnbull did show that he does not give up homeruns very often which is pretty important. That said he does walk quite a few batters. Focusing on pitching around the strikezone more and not being afraid of the hitters is something that he may want to focus on.

Turnbull is another pitcher that while at the bottom of the rotation now, he could become a solid part of the Tigers plans long term. They have certainly been hoping so and this year might be one where he really improves.


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