While talking Tigers on The Joey H Show last Wednesday (you can listen at the show's site, though I still plan to post audio here), I said that I believed Armando Galarraga to be the "x-factor" in this season's starting rotation.
Yes, there are plenty of questions about Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson bouncing back, and whether or not Jeremy Bonderman is recovered from injury. But what if Galarraga was a one-year wonder and can't give Detroit a solid #3 starter? Maybe getting Edwin Jackson was a hedge against that (and, of course, Willis and Robertson), but how badly would that throw the rotation out of whack?
Minor League Ball's John Sickels is not among the optimistic:
As you know, Galarraga was one of the most surprising rookies in 2008, going 13-7, 3.73 for the Tigers with a 126/61 K/BB ratio and 152 hits allowed in 179 innings. The better pitching environment in Detroit certainly helped. Is this sustainable? I think he is due for slippage. His H/IP was much better last year than in his minor league career, and while the better environment helps, I'd bet on an ERA closer to 5.00 than 3.84 again. If he stays healthy I think he can be decent pitcher, but I suspect 2008 was his career year.
Guess for 2009: nagging injury problems, 24 starts,139 innings,152 hits, 93/49 K/BB, 4.75 ERA.
You can read the entire post here, along with what commentors have to say about Galarraga's chances this season.
I know the spring is a time for optimism, when all things seem possible. But what can we really realistically expect from Galarraga in 2009? I'll admit that I've figured he's a guy the Tigers can count on, and hadn't really given the issue much thought until a few weeks ago while trading instant messages with Kurt on the subject.
How about you? Is this something you've been worried about, as well? Or is Galarraga not in your "question mark" column for the upcoming season?