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Let’s start with some simple numbers. Max Scherzer is 9-0 with 106 strikeouts. Justin Verlander has 8 wins and 98 Ks. Anibal Sanchez is the staff’s low man with a 2.65 ERA, but he still has 98 punch-outs. Doug Fister leads the staff in quality starts with 10, which is good for top 10 in baseball. That’s a ridiculous first four.
Even No. 5 Rick Porcello has been pitching, well, unlike Rick Porcello. In his last five starts, he has a 2.93 ERA in addition to 33 strikeouts in 30.2 innings pitched.
Essentially, this staff is dominant, and FanGraphs shows just how dominant. The starters are second in wins and first in K/9, they allow the second fewest home runs and walks per nine and have only lost 16 games all year.
And for all the sabermetricians out there, their batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is third highest in the league, an unlucky trend that should right itself over time. They also lead the majors in WAR at 12.9, a whole 3.3 wins more than the second place Cardinals.
Finally, even though the starters’ 3.46 ERA is good for fourth in the majors, they should be even better. According to FanGraphs, fielding independent pitching (FIP) is a statistic that "measures what a player’s ERA should have looked like over a given time period, assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average."
FIP attempts to measure only what a pitcher can control, thus ruling out luck and any fielding problems a team might have. And the Tigers starters’ FIP? 2.58, or .25 lower than any other team in the majors.
Best staff in baseball, hands down.