Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wait Til Next Year- Detroit Tigers

Now we’re really getting somewhere. The teams we’ll be looking at from now on (and really, the last few as well) are teams that aren’t far off from being contenders. In most cases, they could be described as being one key piece away. Sometimes, that piece is the return of an injured player, as it will be for the Angels. Sometimes, one key signing or trade can put a team over the top, as it arguably has for my Giants with Aubrey Huff and Andres Torres. Sometimes, a piece from within can emerge, climbing the ranks of the franchise’s farm system and bursting on to the major league scene, ready to make an immediate impact. For the Tigers, I’m guessing the one key factor will be two young pitchers entering the rotation and producing instant dividends.

Justin Verlander is a true ace. Verlander is a hard-throwing young stud, and he’s going to give the Tigers a chance to win every time he steps on the mound. Verlander has been worth 4.0 WAR this year. No other Tigers’ pitcher has been better than Max Scherzer’s 2.6. Rick Porcello has shown immense promise, but 2010 has not been kind to him.

However, the Tigers have two young arms who hope to provide some support for Verlander in the near future. Casey Crosby, 22, was drafted in the 5th round in the 2007 draft by the Tigers. After limited action in 2008, Crosby played the 2009 season in A ball, where he earned accolades from scouts across baseball in a season in which he put up a 2.41 ERA with 117 strikeouts in 104.2 innings. Tigers fans hoped that with a good 2010, Crosby could tear up double and triple A and be ready for the big leagues by 2011.

Unfortunately for Crosby, fate intervened, in the form of a recurring elbow swell in his prize left arm. This issue should be taken care of, and Crosby will look to return to his dominance in the minors in 2011. Crosby’s got some of the best pure stuff of any lefty in the minors, and if he can stay healthy expect Tigers brass to try to get him to the high minors in 2011, with an eye towards sticking him in Detroit sometime in 2012.

Jacob Turner scares the hell out of me. As a 19 year old, I’m aware that sometime soon there will be players in major league baseball who are younger than me. Suffice to say that it’s going to be quite strange idolizing men younger than I am. Also 19 and slightly more than a month younger than me, I wouldn’t be surprised if Turner was the first of these players.

Turner was taken 9th overall by the Tigers in the 2009 MLB draft. In his first year playing professional baseball, Turner registered a 3.41 ERA between low- and high-A, striking out 95 in 110.1 innings as one of the younger players in both leagues. Tigers fans have high hope for Turner as an effective big-league starter, and he’s got the right combination of polish and potential to fulfill those expectations. Expect Turner to play 2011 in the high minors and don’t be surprised if he gets a cup of coffee next season, assuming all goes well in double- and/or triple-A.

So wait til next year, Tigers fans, but know that rotation help is on the way in force. Check back tomorrow, when we’ll be taking a look at the boys from across the bay- the Oakland Athletics.

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