MLB Season in Review: Detroit Tigers Pitchers

By Jonah Keri //

Biggest Surprise: Joel Zumaya

The injury-prone, fireballing right-hander was a wreck in 2009,
walking more than six batters per nine innings and posting an ERA near
5.00. Further removed from his latest breakdown, Zumaya rebounded
impressively this season, slashing his walk rate to 2.58/9 IP and
posting a strikeout-to-walk rate of better than 3:1. His 2.58 ERA was a
boon for fantasy players who wield relief pitchers to help with ratios.
Zumaya suffered a fractured elbow in late June though, costing him the
rest of the season and leaving his owners with only 38.1 innings of
fantasy goodness. Applaud the great comeback, but steer clear of Zumaya
at the draft table next season.

Biggest Bust: Rick Porcello

A 10-12 record and a 4.92 ERA for one of the most highly-touted young
pitchers in the game qualifies as a huge bust. But really, everyone
should have seen it coming. Porcello’s 14-9 record and 3.96 ERA came
despite an abysmal K rate of just 4.69/9 IP. It’s nearly impossible to
see sustained success when you strike out so few batters. Indeed,
Porcello’s 2010 K rate is virtually identical to his 2009 mark. It’s
just that he ran out of luck, his left on base rate plunging and his
batting average on balls in play climbing 30 points. Porcello’s not yet
22, and he actually sliced his walk rate all the way down to 2.1/9 IP
this season. He’s still got upside, just keep your expectations in check
until he starts missing more bats.

2011 Keeper Alert: Max Scherzer

After eight starts this season, Scherzer’s record stood at 1-4 with a
7.29 ERA, making the multi-team trade the Tigers pulled off last
off-season look like a potential bust. Though he’d been unlucky on balls
in play, Scherzer’s strikeout rate was also down sharply from his
stellar 2009 levels, raising concerns of an injury, or at least wonky
mechanics. Sent to Triple-A for two weeks, he straightened himself out,
then proceeded to destroy the American League. His 12-11 record and 3.50
ERA helped plenty of fantasy teams this season. But Scherzer’s
strikeout-inducting stuff (8.46 K/9 IP) could portend much bigger things
down the road, even Cy Young contention.

2011 Regression Alert: Armando Galarraga

People will remember Galarraga’s 2010 Perfect Game That Wasn’t for a
long time. Just don’t let it sway you into speculating on him in
fantasy. Galarraga’s K rate was even worse than Porcello’s this season,
and his walk rate is more than one per nine innings higher than
Porcello’s. The 4.62 ERA looks respectable and the near-perfecto might
tempt you to take a flyer next year. Don’t. His true talent points to a
pitcher whose true ability level suggests ERAs well over 5 in his

For more on Max Scherzer and the Detroit Tigers pitching staff, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Kits.


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