Nate Robertson, Kenny Rogers, Armando Galarraga: Who's Your Ex-Detroit Tiger?

Michael PopeAnalyst IMay 18, 2008

The Tigers have been running an advertising campaign since last season that they call, "Who's your Tiger?" It seemed like a smart campaign. 

Most fans have a favorite player to root for, but in the modern revolving door era of free agency, it has sometimes been difficult for fans to identify with their hometown team. 

The Tigers have been shooting for stability and assembled a core group they planned to keep around for the next few years—years in which they expect to contend. 

So one could hardly fault them for cutting Jacque Jones in late April after he was brought in this year, but then proceeded to get off to an embarrassing start. He probably wasn't anyone's Tiger.

But, the Tigers' brass has a much tougher decision coming up soon.

One of the young players they locked up this offseason with a three-year, $29 million deal—Dontrelle Willis—has been on the disabled list after making only two starts.  Neither of those starts went very well. 

In fact, not many Tiger starts have gone well. 

Of the projected starting rotation, only Jeremy Bonderman (4.76) has an ERA under six.  The only starter throwing well is the guy who took over when Willis went out: Armando Galarraga. 

Galarraga leads the team in wins (three), and ERA (3.06).  He also has four quality starts in six tries.  In fact, the team has won five of his six starts. 

In games not started by Galarraga, their record is 12-25.  Ugly. 

So, what do the Tigers do after Willis threw well in his third rehabilitation start?

Most often, teams call up a guy to fill in, then send him down despite how well he's pitching. But the Tigers can hardly afford to send down their best pitcher to date. 

You could look at Kenny Rogers' 6.65 ERA, his expiring contract, and his 43 years as reasons to send him packing.  But Rogers is tied with Galarraga in quality starts, and the team is 4-5 in games he's started.

He may be a candidate to go, but he's a crafty lefty and usually keeps his team in the game. 

So, what should the Tigers do? 

They won't cut Verlander or Bonderman.  That leaves Nate Robertson. 

The team has been waiting for Robertson to be a consistent starter for years.  Only once, in 2006, has he been a reliable performer.  This year he's been awful. 

Opponents are hitting .304 against him.  He's 1-4, and has spun off only one quality start, yet that was in his last trip to the hill. 

Until now, he has been consistentconsistently badgiving up at least four runs in seven-straight starts to open the season. 

Unless he turns it around in his next outing, he could be on his way out, no longer able to be anyone's Tiger.