The Detroit Tigers have a stacked lineup, but their pitching has been a glaring weakness. Their bullpen, which many pointed to as a flaw before the start of the season, could certainly be better, but it’s not the problem right now.
“Everyone talks about the bullpen being a soft spot but I don’t think it’s fair to say that yet,” said manager Jim Leyland. “It’s not like they have been blowing leads. Heck, we haven’t had leads to blow.”
Leyland was actually talking about his team’s lackluster hitting, but he might as well have been talking about their starting pitching, which has been a black hole of suckery so far this season. Four of their starters have ERAs of over 6.00. And two of those have ERAs of over 7.00. Everyone, even staff ace Justin Verlander, has been downright awful. But what kind of awful? Let’s take a look.
1) No durability. Heading into tonight’s games, the other AL pitching staffs had between 16 and 12 quality starts. Detroit’s staff had 4. (Two of those have come from Armando Galarraga, who could be sent back to the minors at any moment.) Detroit’s only major winter addition to the pitching staff, Dontrelle Willis, is currently on the DL with a hyperextended knee. Another key piece of their starting rotation, Kenny Rogers, is 43 years old, and has been unable to go five innings in three of his five starts.
2) No control. The league average for walks? 92. Detroit’s total? 119, good for second in the AL, right behind the god-awful Texas Rangers. Detroit is also second-worst when it comes to WHIP, K/BB, and hit batsmen.
3) A lot of earned runs allowed. In terms of team ERA, Detroit’s 5.03 is second to last in the league, saved again from being last by the craptastic Rangers.
4) No domination. The Tigers are 10th the league in K/9. They ain’t fooling nobody.
5) No efficiency. Detroit pitchers have the second most pitches per plate appearance of any AL staff.
And lest you think it’s just bad luck, their pitching staff’s BABIP is .280, pretty darn close to the average.
Expect them to be eager buyers in July.