There’s no way to analyze the Mud Hens’ potential roster for 2013 without looking at the Tigers’ roster for the coming season. So here’s a look at who will begin next season in Detroit and who could be in Toledo …
PLAYERS LOST, DETROIT: None.
PLAYERS LOST, TOLEDO: Brooks Brown, 4-4, 4.90 ERA; Andy Oliver, 5-9, 4.88 ERA; Adam Wilk, 7-11, 2.77 ERA.
IN DETROIT FOR SURE: While the order for the rotation may be up in the air, there’s no longer any uncertainty about the names. … Justin Verlander will lead the rotation after posting a 17-8 record and 2.64 ERA one season after winning the American League’s Cy Young and MVP awards. … Doug Fister has been solid since he was acquired in trade from Seattle. Last season he overcame injuries to go 10-10 with a 3.45 ERA. … Max Scherzer finished second in the AL in strikeouts last season with 231, trailing only Verlander. He was 16-7 with a 3.74 ERA. … Anibal Sanchez came to the Tigers in a trade with Florida and was 4-6 with a 3.74 ERA before flourishing in the playoffs. … Rick Porcello was 10-12 with a 4.59 ERA at age 23 last season. He won a job in the rotation with an outstanding spring.
IN DETROIT OR IN TOLEDO? While Drew Smyly will begin the season in Detroit’s bullpen, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in Toledo at some point this season. Smyly made a strong push to enter the Tigers’ rotation – so strong, in fact, that Detroit kept him instead of farming him out to the Mud Hens. But it might make sense to send him to Toledo to get a few starts that would give him innings – and a chance to fill a need in the Tigers’ rotation if injuries hit.
OTHER TOLEDO OPTIONS: LHP Casey Crosby is one of the few returnees from Toledo’s rotation last season. Just 24 years old, Crosby was 7-9 with a 4.01 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 126 innings for the Hens. … RHP Shawn Hill is a veteran who has pitched in the majors with Montreal/Washington, San Diego and Toronto. Last season he was 9-2 with a 4.52 ERA in 15 starts for Las Vegas in the Pacific Coast League. … LHP Jose Alvarez is just 23 years old and made an impression on the Tigers in spring training. Last season he was 6-9 with 4.22 ERA for Jacksonville in the Double-A Southern League. That’s one of the questions regarding Alvarez: He has never pitched above Double-A. … LHP Pat Misch has pitched for San Francisco and the New York Mets and also has spent at least part of the last four seasons in the IL. Last season he was 7-12 with a 4.98 ERA for Lehigh Valley. … LHP Duane Below spent most of last season with Detroit but made a late-season cameo with the Hens and was 1-2 with a 6.23 ERA. In 2011 he was 9-4 with a 3.13 ERA with Toledo.
POTENTIAL HELP FROM ERIE: The most familiar name for Tigers and Hens fans is LHP Kyle Lobstein, Detroit’s Rule 5 pick who will stay with the organization. Last season Lobstein was 8-7 with a 4.06 ERA with Montgomery in the Southern League. … Another familiar name, at least in Toledo, is LHP Ramon Garcia. Last season split time between the SeaWolves (9-10, 3.96) and the Mud Hens (1-3, 8.46). … Among the pitchers who may move up from Hi-A Lakeland to earn spots in the Erie rotation are LHP Alex Burgos, who was 8-10 with a 4.90 ERA with the Flying Tigers, and RHP Luis Sanz, who was 11-3 with a 3.46 ERA with the Flying Tigers. … A name to watch is that of RHP Drew VerHagen. He was 0-3 with a 3.67 ERA in eight late-season appearances for the Flying Tigers in his first season in the organization.
THE LAST WORD: In Detroit, the starters are set. The only questions remains whether Smyly will get enough bullpen work to remain sharp should he need to enter the rotation. … In Toledo, the Hens have a good mix of youth (Crosby, Alvarez) and experience (Hill, Misch). The good news for the Tigers is that some of Toledo’s starters also showed promise to fill holes in Detroit if a need arises.. … As for Erie, the SeaWolves have a number of interesting arms to watch. Lobstein is the best-known to the Tigers brass since he competed for a bullpen spot in spring training.
FRIDAY, MARCH 29: A look at the relief pitching in Detroit, Toledo and Erie.
Click here to take a look at the potential outfielders for the Mud Hens this season. Click here to take a look at the potential infielders for the Mud Hens this season. And click here to read an overview of the team for the coming year.