The Tigers' pitching from a second half perspective

Rick Porcello hugs Alex Avila after a 9-1 victory at U.S. Cellular Field on September 10, 2013 - Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

A hot or cold start can create a perception that is hard to overcome. Let's look at the second half performance of the pitching staff.

Earlier this week we looked at the Tigers' offense, isolating only the second half numbers in an attempt to counterbalance the impact that early season performance has on our perception of a given player.  Let's do the same with the pitchers.  Note that the second "half" is more like a third, since the All Star break came after 94 games, and the season is not complete.  We are looking at 57 games of performance; akin to our feelings about a player in early June.

The format is won - loss record, good-old-fashioned ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts per nine innings.  Whether you believe in won-loss record and ERA or not, these are numbers that the media frequently uses and thus your opinion is shaped by them to some degree.

Max Scherzer:  6-2, 2.51 ERA, .921 WHIP, 9.4 SO/9  Max has stepped up to be an ace and one of the most dominant pitchers in the American League.  Only Ubaldo Jimenez, Anibal Sanchez, Jon Lester, David Price, and Yu Darvish can come close to Max's performance.

Anibal Sanchez:  7-1, 2.03 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 8.7 SO/9  Anibal is making Dave Dombrowski look brilliant by first trading for Sanchez, and then signing him to a long term contract.  Anibal actually leads the American League in fWAR, allowing a claim that the Tigers have the top two starting pitchers in the league.

Justin Verlander:  3-5, 3.93 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 7.9 SO/9  Verlander is allowing more base runners and striking out fewer batters than in any season since 2008.  Surely he will emerge from this rough patch to resume his dominance, as being last among the team's starters in ERA and wins is inconceivable.

Doug Fister:  5-4. 3.10 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 5.9 SO/9  Fister is allowing a lot of base runners but minimizing the damage.

Rick Porcello:  7-2, 3.93 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 6.6 SO/9  Porcello is tied for the team lead in wins, having ditched his slider for a curveball that has his strikeout rate at a career high.

Joaquin Benoit:  2-1, 2.45 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 5.7 SO/9  Benoit is a perfect 13 for 13 in save opportunities to anchor a steady if not spectacular bullpen.  His strikeout rate is unusually low but likely just an anomaly from only 22 innings pitched.

Jose Veras:  0-1, 2.14 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 6.4 SO/9  With Octavio Dotel injured, Jose Veras has slid right into the setup role and even occasionally closed a game to keep Benoit fresh.

Al Alburquerque:  2-1, 5.30 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 11.1 SO/9  Al Al has kept the walk rate low enough to limit the number of base runners while he has the highest strikeout rate in the ‘pen.  This has given Jim Leyland such confidence in him that only Benoit and Veras have more innings.

Bruce Rondon:  1-1, 2.41 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 9.2 SO/9  While Rondon did not earn the closer's role, he has been a valuable addition to the bullpen.  Jim Leyland has spread the innings out well among the relievers, with everyone having 18 innings plus or minus 4 innings.  But that did not prevent Rondon from developing a tender elbow.

Drew Smyly:  2-0, 4.24 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 10.1 SO/9  Smyly has adapted well to the bullpen and become first in line to face a tough left handed hitter.  His return to the rotation will not be soon with the formidable and deep rotation.

Jeremy Bonderman:  1-1, 5.28 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 8.3 SO/9  Bonderman's return to Detroit has proven successful, other than one bad outing in Boston.

Jose Alvarez:  0-2, 5.65 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 6.3 SO/9  Alvarez has been the swingman, with numbers that fit the role.

No other pitchers have reached double digits in innings.

Overall, and with improved defense, the Tigers are allowing only 3.4 runs per game.  No team was this stingy in 2012, including the highly touted Rays.

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