The Detroit Tigers invested a lot of draft capital and money into its rotation in recent years, but injuries have wrecked havoc on a young, but talented group. Because of several notable arms out of action for most, if not all of 2023, this rotation won’t be at full strength. With that in mind, here’s a look at how the Tigers rotation may shake out this season.
A Look at the Tigers Rotation Options
- LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (5-5, 4.05 ERA, 7.1 K/9 in 2022)
- RHP Matt Manning (2-3, 3.43 ERA, 6.9 K/9)
- RHP Spencer Turnbull (Did not pitch in ’22)
- RHP Michael Lorenzen (8-6, 4.24 ERA, 7.8 K/9)
- LHP Matthew Boyd (2-0, 1.35 ERA, 8.8 K/9)
Since the Tigers began a lengthy rebuild back in 2017, the Detroit front office accumulated a number of highly-regarded pitching prospects by way of the MLB Draft. However, injuries and other setbacks have led to issues with getting those arms to stick at the big league level.
Two of those prized arms, Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, won’t be on the mound come Opening Day for the Tigers. However, Detroit’s rotation should include several free agent pickups made over the last two years, starting with LHP Eduardo Rodriguez.
The former Red Sox pitcher spent last season with Detroit, but only logged 91 IP after being away from the team for an extended period of time in the summer, and a ribcage sprain right that popped up before his leave of absence. When he was on the mound, Rodriguez posted a 4.05 ERA and a 18.4% K% in 2022, the latter of which was nine percentage points lower than his 2021 K% figure. The lefty can pound the zone with an effective fastball and cutter, and then change speeds on hitters with a solid changeup. But, health will be key to Rodriguez’s chances to replicate past success in 2023.
Matt Manning’s second season went better than his rookie campaign, as the 24-year-old saw improvements in K%, BB%, and ERA. Still, we haven’t seen the elite stuff that the former first-round pick showed back in the Minors yet with the Tigers. In his third season, perhaps the youngster will take another step forward.
RHP Spencer Turnbull turned into a valuable arm for the Tigers in 2020, before succumbing tom UCL reconstruction surgery a year later. The 30-year-old is now healthy for 2023, and has been cleared to get back on the mound. Whenever he’s ready to go, expect Turnbull to slot back into the Tigers rotation.
The Tigers added two new arms via free agency this past winter, one of those being Michael Lorenzen. Primarily a reliever in his career, Lorenzen saw his first extended action in a MLB rotation last year with the Angels since his rookie season in 2015. Across 97.2 innings, Lorenzen went 8-6 with a 4.24 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. Control and command, though, will be something to watch for the righty this season, as he’s posted below-average BB% rates in each of the last three campaigns.
LHP Matthew Boyd returned to the Tigers this past offseason, one year after being non-tendered by Detroit in 2021. It’s not hard to see why Detroit and its new front office would want the lefty back. Boyd performed well in Detroit when healthy, thanks to a dominant slider that he plays off well with his fastball. While it’s been a while since we’ve seen a healthy Boyd, one can’t forget that the 32-year-old struck out 238 batters in the 2019 season.
Should the Tigers deal with any injury or performance-related issues with its rotation in 2023, LHP Tyler Alexander, RHP Beau Brieske, and RHP Alex Faedo — all of whom saw extended time in the Detroit rotation in 2022 — could factor into the equation again in 2023.