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Tigers rotation: Better than expected

The Detroit Tigers' rotation was expected to be good. In many ways, it's been even better than that.

Otto Greule Jr

The question of just how good the Detroit Tigers' rotation is came up frequently this offseason. Pretty great, we all agreed. Among the best in the game, most said. The best, others ventured. A month into the season, early returns have been good.

Of 30 teams in the MLB, the Tigers rank:

  • 1st in strikeouts (310)
  • 4th in ERA (3.36)
  • 1st in FIP (2.66) -- Detroit is the only team under 3.
  • 1st in xFIP (3.11)
  • 1st in SIERA (3.08)
  • 2nd in quality start percentage (73)
  • 3rd in innings/start (6.3)

The individual starters rank:

  • 3rd, Justin Verlander, 1.55, in ERA
  • 12th, Anibal Sanchez, 1.82, in ERA
  • 21st, Doug Fister, 2.18, in ERA
  • 50th, Max Scherzer, 3.43, in ERA
  • 1st (Sanchez, 1.33), 4th (Verlander, 1.98), 5th (Scherzer, 2.02) and 24th (Fister, 3.09) in FIP
  • 3rd (Scherzer, 57) and 7th (Verlander, Sanchez, 50) in strikeouts.

Sanchez threw a franchise-record 17 strikeouts in a nine-inning game.

The Tigers hold the AL-record for striking out 10-batters-or-more in seven consecutive games. They failed to tie the Brewers' MLB-record of eight on Friday. They'll try again though, as they struck out 10 Saturday and 13 Sunday.

Well, you get the point.

We thought the Tigers would be good, but short of those few with the loftiest of imaginations, it would be hard to say the rotation isn't doing even more than expected.

Detroit definitely has the best 1-4 in the league. Do they have the best 1-5? That might depend on how much credit you give to ERA and how much credit you give to Fielding Independent Pitching -- or some out there may be more industrious than I am and look to opponents faced.

There is one thing we should be able to agree on though: The Tigers have the kind of rotation built for the postseason. There's no weakness to be found among the top four.

It's really something to behold.