When the Detroit Tigers wisely decided not to bring back Brad Penny following an offense-aided 10-10 record in 2012, the competition for the fifth starter in their rotation was underway.
Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello represent a strong—but incomplete—rotation. Not only are they a man short, but they're all right-handed pitchers and lack the the lefty to complement them and keep opposing teams off-balance.
The lack of a left-hander could come back to haunt the Tigers as the team presumed to be their biggest competition for the AL Central crown, the Cleveland Indians, feature a predominately left handed lineup.
The Tigers are less than two weeks away from their first game, and there is no clear-cut candidate for that final rotation spot. Because of off-days in their early schedule they technically don't need a fifth starter until April 15 at the earliest, so Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski have a little, but not much, time to make a decision.
Here's how the top contenders shake out right now.