Finding a 6th starter

On the second batter of the Friday night’s game Dontrelle Willis slipped and hyper-extended his knee. It’s unclear at this point whether the knee injury will cause Willis to hit the DL, but given his control problems this year it might not be a bad idea regardless. If the Tigers do need a new starter, who could they turn to? Up until Friday afternoon I thought that it would be Yorman Bazardo, but now Detroit will have to turn to someone else.

Virgil Vasquez

Vasquez made a couple spot starts for the Tigers last year, with some rocky results. He was rocked at the Metrodome, and had a short outing against the A’s. In between was a 5 inning, 2 run effort against the White Sox. He’s been solid in his 2 starts so far with an impressive 14:2 K:BB ratio for the Mud Hens.

Armando Galarraga

The right hander was acquired for minor leaguer Michael Hernandez. In his first two starts he has a .67 WHIP and has 11 strike outs versus 1 walk for Toledo. Detroit Tiger Thoughts mentioned Galarraga as a candidate for a bullpen call up as well.

Rick Porcello

Controversial? Yes. But I have to believe it would be considered. Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland have been willing to rapidly promote (or rush) players through the system. He’s had an easy time of it in Lakeland in his first 2 starts – ever. And that’s the rub. He has two professional starts under his belt. While the scouting reports indicate he probably already is capable of pitching at the big league level the bigger question is should he? I’m inclined to say it would be a bad idea because he needs time to develop and do you want to thrust that on a kid? Conversely though if his stuff is ready, and if he is as poised as he appeared in the spring training appearance I saw (and by all accounts he is), would there be an adverse effect for him to collect a handful of starts?

I still think it will be Vasquez. He’s done it before and it is the sensible pick. But don’t fool yourself if you think that Porcello wouldn’t be at least discussed.

23 thoughts on “Finding a 6th starter”

  1. The next pitcher they need to deal is Willis but I am not sure that is possible. I wonder, how much money does this organization have in order to be making the payouts of these ridiculous sums for such poor performance?

  2. One wonders why they gave Willis the money they gave him before he threw a pitch. I think he’ll get better, much better even, but even then it’ll be a decline from even his 2006 form, which if you look at the peripherals wasn’t very great.

  3. As much as he has struggled coming out of the bullpen, I actually like Zach Miner. He was progressing as a starter a couple years ago before being sent to the bullpen. He could fall under the category of much better as a starter than as a reliever.

  4. Rick Porcello. If he’s got the stuff, let’s use ’em. We need to win in 2008. What’s it gonna do, ruin his career? He’s probably the best candidate, with the best stuff.

    If it doesn’t work out, send him back down. I know it’s controversal, but I say push the envelope.

  5. Porcello is the only option, the rest is just whistling past the graveyard. He’s one of only three good pitchers the Tigers have, with one of them, Zumaya, not even pitching yet.

    What harms a young pitcher is a rapid increase in the load of innings-pitched. Psychologically, the young man is very together and would not be harmed with a couple of rocky starts. Dwight Gooden was great at 19. Porcello has more variety than Gooden and stuff just as good.

    If he was a great chess player he’d be in the spotlight, if he was a gymnast or ice-skater, he’d be over-the-hill. The mental aspect is overrated. Past flameouts, like David Clyde, could not adjust and expand their variety (Bonderman).

    Porcello is going to be throwing somewhere, might as well be helping the big league club. THEY DON’T HAVE ANY OPTIONS HERE, just fantasies about their stable of pitching talent.

  6. I am not filled with all sorts a babeball knowledge; but what’s wrong with a four man rotation. Don’t other teams only go that way?

  7. It’s been a long time since any teams used a four man rotation on a regular basis (I’m guessing early 70’s). You can sometimes get away with it early in the season when you have more off days and rainouts, but it’s really not a practical option for the long term.

  8. 2 things: the Tiger starters are not built for a 4-man rotation and neither is a pitch counter like Leyland. Plus a 4-man rotation is even more stress on an unpredictable bullpen.

    Also, I can’t agree with making Porcello the starter now. For every Dwight Gooden there are 50 more stories of pitchers who needed that time to adjust in the minors. Andrew Miller’s starts have gotten progressively worse since his gem against the Cardinals last year. This is the 5th spot we are talking about. Vasquez is the perfect choice. He may get hit hard, but he isn’t giving batters free passes and that is what you want the most out of your 5th starter. Also let give Willis a little time and maybe a few minor league starts —

  9. I just Googled it – my guess was pretty good: “The five-man rotation sprung into vogue around 1974, and by 1980 almost every team in baseball had switched to it.”
    Here’s the link

  10. i don’t like willis any more than the previous posters, but i’m not ready to call for his head just yet. i think we have to give him at least a year. some people just take a little while to settle in to a new system. also, despite the wretched start, i’m not as demoralized as many others. i’ve never thought that the cold-weather games in april effectively represent a team’s capability. if we still suck in june, i’ll be worried. as far as the 4 man rotation goes, i think we could pull it off, but there will have to be changes. for example, we need to expect more than 5.5 innings of work from our young pitchers. this is decidedly more difficult in april and the beginning of may (cold weather). but, later in the season, the team should create a culture where it is a disappointment if the young guys don’t go at least 7. i would prefer that regime to a system where we chase the elusive 5th starter to the detriment of our season.

  11. I think that if Galarraga is a bullpen candidate, bring him up to start and if he does well, send him to the bullpen when Willis recovers.

  12. I think we need to get a handle on two things:

    Who the starter will be to take Willis’ place and I really think more importantly what is the real deal with D-Train. Is it a physical thing, Head thing or mechanics? We gave up a lot to get him and Miggy, but we can not just let him be a throw away. He does have talent and can pitch but what is the deal here?.

    Great game last night, couldnt blog…….. Did anyone catch the respect that the Who-Sox announcers gave Maggs. For a couple of real homer (could have added an O) announcers they still love Maggs and Curtis.

    Radio only today for us with MLB EI.

    Lets go for our 1st two game winning streak today. I love beating the whitesox


  13. You can’t give the job to Porcello yet. He has to build up his strength to pitch over a whole year. That’s what you do in the MiLB.

  14. My guess is that if we do see Porcello wearing the big ‘D’, it will be in August or September as a middle relief option under low pressure situations.

  15. My vote is for Miner. He’s clearly not a good bullpen arm, but has had success as a starter. I’d like to see him get three or four starts, and if he fails, move him for whatever AA arm you can get. On the upside, if he (or anyone else) succeeds, Willis could spend a month or two on the DL while Chuck tries to figure out how to get him to throw strikes.

  16. Assuming that Porcello doesn’t get the call, and that someone from Toledo does, does Porcello end up in Erie as part of the trickle down call ups to replace the AAA pitcher and subsequently the AA pitcher?

    Holy grey underwear batman. Could that sentence be any longer?

  17. Well, I wouldn’t expect Porcello to come up and stay all year. I agree that he wouldn’t be ready to throw 175 innings.

    But an occasional spot start would be interesting.

  18. From…
    “Willis hasn’t been on the disabled list since 2002, when he was playing at Jupiter of the Class A Florida State League.”

    Great, first time he’s ever been injured on planet Earth and it has to be in his second start with the Tigers!

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