Minor league reliever Jay Voss has settled the Tigers' starting rotation for 2010. It will no longer include Nate Robertson, as Voss was swapped for the left-handed starter and cash considerations.
Having just updated Voss's Wikipedia entry to reflect the news, let's take a look at the Tigers pitching after the move.
Dave Dombrowski said that it was already set, but the rotation is now all but carved in stone and it includes, in addition to an ace and two inexperienced youths, a couple of gigantic question marks.
Jeremy Bonderman has not pitched much meaningful baseball since having two procedures to remove a blood clot from his arm in 2008.
When he returned last year he had yet to regain his velocity and pitched only 10.1 innings before returning to the disabled list. The Tigers must be relatively confident in his recovery if they are limiting their options at the back end of their rotation prior to opening day.
The starter most likely to be replaced should things get rocky is Dontrelle Willis.
While Detroit still possesses players that can step in and become the number five starter, replacing the fourth and fifth starters would prove difficult.
Willis's struggles have been well documented since joining the Tigers in the Miguel Cabrera trade prior to the 2008 season. He has struggled with injuries and anxiety issues, then there is the matter of an aging pitcher with an unconventional delivery that has (possibly) too many moving parts.
Given Robertson's struggles in recent years, this move is unlikely to be an endorsement of Willis. Detroit could move any number of players into the fifth spot of the rotation: Eddie Bonine, Zach Miner, or even young gun Jacob Turner.
The move does seem to be a positive sign for Bonderman. Their willingness to limit their pitching flexibility exhibits that the team must believe that he can hold his own as an end-of-the-rotation starter in the major leagues in 2010.
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