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Justin Verlander is the ace and the face of the Tigers.
The Tigers are one of the more complete teams in all of baseball. They have the best hitter in baseball, Miguel Cabrera, and the best pitcher in baseball, Justin Verlander, wearing their uniform.
They saw contributions from up and down the lineup to help them get to the World Series.
Now with the return of Victor Martinez, they have one of the best 3-4-5 combinations in the majors (Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Martinez). Adding Torii Hunter gives them another solid bat in the mix.
Detroit wants to utilize the speed of leadoff man Austin Jackson to help create runs, so they brought in Jeff Cox as a base-running consultant to work with Jackson through Spring Training.
Starting pitching is strong for Detroit. Led by Verlander, they have the deepest rotation in the division.
Re-signing Anibal Sanchez was a big move for the Tigers. After coming over from Miami at the deadline, Sanchez pitched to contact which saw his strikeouts drop, but he was a reliable pitcher in the playoffs despite two losses. He turned in a 1.77 ERA in three starts in the playoffs.
Sanchez slides in right between Max Scherzer and Doug Fister.
Scherzer has an explosive fastball capable of reaching 100 mph and is coming off a career year, notching 16 wins and 231 strikeouts. Scherzer has matured each year he’s been in the rotation and there’s no reason to think he won’t improve in 2013.
With Drew Smyly and Rock Porcello battling it out for the fifth starter, that leaves them with a viable option for long reliever or spot-starter. No matter who they decide to go with, the back of the rotation is solid.
In Porcello’s four years in the big leagues, he hasn’t started less than 27 games and has racked up more than 160 innings each year. He doesn’t have the best stats, but he’s only 24 and has plenty of room for improvement.
Smyly would be the only left-handed pitcher in the rotation. Pitching as both a reliever and starter last season, Smyly struck out 94 hitters in 99.1 innings.
The only question mark for the Tigers is their bullpen. Losing Jose Valverde after he struggled at the end of last season, Detroit doesn’t have a proven closer. They could have to rely on flame-throwing prospect Bruce Rondon, who can hit 102 mph.
Rondon is only 22 years old, and manager Jim Leyland thinks he is a viable candidate for the closing job.
Sprinkle in Phil Coke, Octavio Dotel and Joaquin Benoit, and this team could end up surprising themselves.
Detroit is going to win the division.