After guiding their team to a World Series berth, what will the Tigers starting pitchers do for an encore? Will their young pitchers continue to improve and can Kenny Rogers still lead the staff at 42 years young?
After leading the league in ERA [4.00] last season I believe that there will be a slight drop in performance for the starter's, but that fall will only be marginal. Still, one of the main things going for Detroit is age. Four out of their five starters are 29 or younger. Currently, the AL Champion Tigers have the second best starting rotation in all of baseball.
42-year old Kenny Rogers continues to shock the baseball world as he improves with age. Since turning 39, Rogers has won 49 games. This is more wins than he had in his first five seasons in Texas combined. If Rogers can win another 15 games this year the Tigers will be in excellent shape.
Justin Verlander, last years Rookie of the Year, is a star in the making and will pitch better than he did last season. Likewise, right-hander Jeremy Bonderman continues to improve season after season. He has won at least 14 games the last two years and struck out over 200 batters for the first time in his career last season. The 24-year old is also coming off of a very impressive postseason.
Lefty Nate Robertson is coming off of his best season in the majors. He posted 13 wins and had a stellar 3.84 ERA. He is a pitcher who possess great talent and fits in nicely in the Tigers starting rotation.
Mike Maroth will be slatted in as Detroit's fifth starter this season. The Orlando native is coming off of a disappointing 2006 campaign where he suffered from elbow pain. He only won five games last year and will be counted on heavily in the back end of the rotation. If he can remain healthy the Tigers will be able to capitalize on their 2006 success.