MLB Team News & Rumors: Detroit

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Detroit Tigers

Our expert from,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.

Detroit Tigers Team Projection

Check out my player profiles of the Detroit Tigers pitching staff below to help you with your fantasy baseball draft prep.

1. SP Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander fantasy baseball

For most pitchers, Verlander's 2013 results would be great. Justin had his worst season since 2008. His command (3.1) took a huge step backwards and he lost more velocity off of his fastball (93.3 - career low). Verlander has pitched over 200 innings in 7 straight seasons and has won 17 games or more 6 times in 8 major league seasons. Most of his failure happened in May (6.41 ERA). He ended the season with a 2.27 ERA in September and was electric in the playoffs (1 run in 23 innings with 31 K's in 23 innings). His slider has gained value over the last few season (he threw it a career high 13.2% of the time). His changeup is still his #2 pitch, followed by a plus curveball. Most of his struggles were against RH batters (.275), but he did walk the most LH batters (50) since 2008. Verlander had surgery to repair an abdomen muscle in early January, but is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. Justin has an elite resume and finished 2013 on a high note. I know one fantasy player that will be looking for him to fall in drafts so he can pull off the triple Lindy. Elite arm with 20 win upside and sub 3.00 ERA.

2. SP Max Scherzer

Max Scherzer fantasy baseball

Scherzer's electric K rate (11.1) in 2012 should have been a signal of his future greatness. His big step forward was due to his ability to get LH batters out (.222 - .292 in 2012). His AFB (93.3) was a step down from 2012 (94.2), but it was in line with his 2 previous seasons. A changeup is his #2 pitch, followed by a plus slider. Last year, he threw a curveball for the first time in his career. Scherzer also threw the highest % of first pitch strikes (64%) during his career, which led to a .198 batting average by opposing batters. Furthermore, his command (2.4) was a career best. Max had a 2.60 ERA over the last 4 months of the season. As good as it looks, he only has one elite season on his resume at age 29. He has three plus pitches and it looks like he has finally solved LH batters. High upside pitcher with plus K ability, but he really needs to prove he can handle plus innings. Possible step backwards in 2014, but he is in a contract year.

3. SP Anibal Sanchez

Anibal Sanchez fantasy baseball

Last year, I was fearful of Sanchez headed into the season due to his mid season struggles. He had a great season in 2013 and ended up leading the AL in ERA (2.56). Anibal tied his career high in K's (202). His command (2.7) was slightly lower than his previous last 2 seasons, but his AFB (93.0) was a career high and it has gained velocity in 6 straight seasons. This led to spike in his K rate (10.0 - career high). His changeup gained value, and it is now his #2 pitch (followed by a plus slider). Sanchez also throws a curveball. His big improvement was against RH batters (.207 - .291 in 2012). Furthermore, he missed time in June due to a shoulder issue. Anibal allowed 2 runs or less in 22 of his 29 starts. Sanchez has never thrown 200 innings during his career. His skill set is on the improve, but his success may be above his skill set. His ERA should fall back to the 3.50 area with less than 200 K's.

4. SP Drew Smyly

Drew Smyly fantasy baseball

When the Tigers traded Fister to the Nationals, their starting rotation didn't lose a beat. Smyly had success as a starter in 2012 and made a huge step forward as a reliever last year. His command (2.0) is now in an elite area, which led to a plus K rate (9.6). His AFB was 90.9. He stopped throwing his slider, which led to his cutter being his #2 pitch. Drew also throws a curveball. He dominated LH batters (.189 with only 5 extra base hits in 122 at bats). Smyly was 11-8 in the minors with a 2.57 ERA and 155 K's in 143.7 innings. He is a high upside pitcher, but his innings may be capped due to his year in the bullpen. He has 150 K upside with a sub 3.50 ERA.

5. SP Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello fantasy baseball

Porcello continued his wild path in the majors in 2013. His ERA is 4.51 during his major league career, but he has 61 major league wins at age 24.. His command (2.1) has been elite in his first 868.7 innings, but last year was the first time his K rate (7.2) had any value. Additionally, his GB rate (55.3%) continues to rise and he allowed a career low 23.7% fly balls. His AFB (91.2) was slightly less than 2012 (92.0), but his changeup continues to improve. Last year, he started using his curveball as his #2 pitch at the expense of his slider. Porcello had the most success against RH batters (.237) in his career. He had an elite BB: K rate (11:85) against righties. Rick has struggled with lefties during his entire career (.307) and his failure rate was the same in 2013 (.303 - 11 HR's in 347 at bats). Last year, Porcello had a 6.28 ERA after his first 9 starts mainly due to his 9 run pasting by the Angels in 2/3 of an inning. On May 28th, he pitched an electric start against the Pirates (11 K's in 8 shutout innings). It was the first time in his career that he showed plus K ability. On the year, he allowed 3 runs or less in 23 of his 29 starts. His weak ERA was due to 4 disaster starts where he allowed 30 runs in 16 innings. Without his bad starts, he had a 3.19 ERA. In September, he had back to back plus K games (19 K's in 12.7 innings). Porcello is one step away from being an elite arm, but he needs to figure out lefties. His resume looks like it has many shades of red, but he is really close to turning a profit. I see a breakthrough season with a sub 3.50 ERA with 150+ K upside.

6. SP Jose Alvarez

Jose Alvarez fantasy baseball

Alvarez pitched very well at AAA in 2013 (2.80 ERA), which led to him being called up in June by the Tigers. He pitched well in his first 2 stars (3 runs in 11 innings with 10 K's before fading over his next 2 starts (8 runs in 8.7 innings). He was sent back to the minors in early July, but returned for a decent start (2 runs in 5.7 innings) in mid August and finished the year in the bullpen. His command (2.2) has been strong in the minors, but it took a step back with Detroit (3.7). His AFB (89.4) is also short. In addition, his #2 pitch is a change up which he threw 29.2% of the time. He also throws a slider and a show me curveball. Overall, he has really struggled with RH batters (.287 and .505 SLG %) in the majors. Serviceable lefty arm if the Tigers need another starter due to an injury. He has low upside in K's, unless he pitches a high volume of innings.

7. SP Robbie Ray

Robbie Ray fantasy baseball

The Tigers acquired Ray in a trade with Washington in the offseason. He pitched terrible in 2012 at High A (4-12 with 6.56 ERA). His fastball lacked life and the Nationals were in the process of trying to improve his change up and slider. Overall, his hard work paid dividends in 2013, but his command (3.9) still needs a lot of work. His K rate (10.1) was a career high. Ray lacks size and his skill set hasn't been defined. When he was drafted, Robbie had a mid 90's fastball. He may develop more velocity when he fills out, but he probably won't see the majors until 2015.

8. CL Joe Nathan

Joe Nathan fantasy baseball

Nathan posed his 5th sub 2.00 ERA in his 11 years as a closer in 2013. He has 35+ saves in 8 of his last 9 seasons. Nathan converted 43 of his 46 chances in 2013. His K rate (10.2) is still elite, but it is a step back from his best seasons. His command (3.1) spiked upward after setting a career low in 2012, and his AFB (92.2) was a career low. His slider continues to be his #2 pitch followed by a curveball. Nathan is a FB pitcher (44.3%), but his HR/FB rate (3.0) was a career low last year. Right handed batters only had 2 extra base hits in 105 at bats against him in 2013. Overall, batters hit .162 against him in 2013. Last year, Detroit had 55 save chances, but they only converted 39 times. Nathan is a top closer with 40+ save upside. His fastball is declining along with his command, but he is still capable of posting an elite ERA and WHIP.

9. RP Bruce Rondon

Bruce Rondon fantasy baseball

Rondon has an amazing fastball (99.3) and his command (3.5) improved slightly during his 28.7 innings in the majors. During his minor league career, his walk rate was a disappointing 4.9 with a solid K rate (10.1). Bruce has a decent slider and will throw a changeup. He handled himself well against righties (.234) in the majors. At this point of his career, he has no value against LH batters (.295 with 8 walks and 10 K's in 54 at bats). This year, the Tigers really need him to take the 8th inning job and run with it. Detroit is hoping Rondon will develop into their future closer. Plus arm with high upside in K's when he develops better command. The Tigers hope he doesn't eat himself out of the league.

10. RP Al Alburquerque

Al Alburquerque fantasy baseball

Alburquerque continues to have an elite K rate (12.9%), but his walk rate (6.2) is a complete disaster. Major league batters are only hitting .176 against him in 376 at bats. He needs to improve his command against RH batters. His best pitch is a slider, which he throws 64.8% of the time. Furthermore, his fastball (94.3) is elite. Last year, Al allowed way too many line drives (25.4%). He has an electric arm, but his upside is really limited until he develops better command. Alburquerque did throw more strikes in 2013, but his walk rate didn't improve.


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