The Detroit Tigers’ starting rotation has been a mess this season. This isn’t their fault; they have actually performed relatively well, all things considered. Their 102 ERA- is just a hair below league average, and Matthew Boyd has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. Spencer Turnbull is not far behind in overall value, and his 67 ERA- is actually a hair better than Boyd’s. Daniel Norris has struggled at times, but performed adequately for a back-end starter.
That the Tigers’ rotation has been a relative strength is an impressive feat considering they have seen four-fifths of their projected Opening Day rotation hit the injured list for long stretches. Two of those starters — Michael Fulmer and Matt Moore — are out for the season, while Tyson Ross and Jordan Zimmermann have combined for just 13 starts.
But their absence has left a hole in the back end of the rotation. Ryan Carpenter has made six starts to fill in, but his 175 ERA- is... not great. Even worse still is lefthander Gregory Soto, who has a 249 ERA- thanks to some ugly splits when facing an opposing lineup more than once.
With Kyle Funkhouser on the mend, Nick Ramirez performing well in the bullpen, Beau Burrows starting to stir in the lower minors, and several other capable arms moving up the minor league ranks, we want to know how you would structure the rotation if you were in charge.
Here’s our Question of the Day.
What should the Tigers’ starting rotation look like right now?
My answer: I think the Tigers could stand to give Carpenter one more start. Prior to his last outing, he had put together a nice little run, with a 2.65 ERA across three starts from May 25 to June 4. His 16.4 percent strikeout rate during that stretch wasn’t particularly impressive, but he only walked two batters in 17 innings, and limited opponents to a .651 OPS.
Giving Carpenter another start also allows Kyle Funkhouser to log one more rehab start before eventually joining the Tigers’ rotation. Funkhouser threw 79 pitches in his last start, a dominant performance with Double-A Erie, so he should be at a full workload after one more outing.
As for the other spot? Lefthander Nick Ramirez has earned a shot. He has a 2.45 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 22 innings out of the bullpen so far, with a strikeout per inning and a respectable walk rate to his name. The Tigers may miss him in that multi-inning role he has succeeded in so far, but they have others — even possibly Soto and Carpenter — who could also thrive in those shorter stints.
So, for now? Boyd, Turnbull, Norris, Ramirez, and Funkhouser (after one more rehab start) are my starting five.