Minnesota Twins vs AL Central: Starting Pitching

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Sep 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Tigers

A healthy Justin Verlander, the signing of Jordan Zimmerman and the potential return to form for Anibal Sanchez should provide a boost for the Tigers whose starters finished 27th in ERA with 4.78.

Expectations were high last season for the Tigers who featured a staff full of potential game changers. David Price was part of the staff as was 2014 All-Star Alfredo Simon. But what was to be a potential dream year turned into a nightmare as Simon struggled with his control and finished with an ERA of 5.05.

Price was the bright spot for the team with a 2.53 ERA but was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays once it was clear the Tigers weren’t going to compete.

Verlander also struggled early, making his debut in June after suffering a triceps injury. Still, he was able to finish the season strong despite a slow start.

If Verlander is healthy and Zimmerman pitches the way he did in Washington, the Tigers could feature a strong staff. Sanchez will be an X-Factor for the Tigers, as he always has been but the real question, like with the Indians, will be the back two starters.

Twins fans know very well just how good Pelfrey can be but also just how bad he can be. Fifth starter Shane Greene had a 6.88 ERA in just 18 games and would need to vastly improve this season.

So while there’s a lot of room for potential, which is why the Tigers are No. 2, their season could just as easily implode from a pitching perspective.

Sep 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) warms up before the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Chicago White Sox

So this is where things get tricky. It was closer than one would imagine when it came to this spot but ultimately Chris Sale and the White Sox nabbed the No. 3 slot.

After posting 274 strikeouts, Sale proved to be a true ace and one a team can build around. Now for the White Sox, it’s just a case of actually building around him.

To put things into perspective, the White Sox starters finished second to the Indians in strikeouts with Sale being responsible for nearly 30-percent of those.

The Sox will feature Jose Quintana who is looking to build off a year that saw him go 9-10 with 177 strikeouts and a 3.36 ERA.

Following them will be Carlos Rodon, John Danks and Mat Latos. All three of these starters do feature some positives but prove to be a serious dropoff following Sale and Quintana.

Until the Sox put some more solid pitchers around those two, this team will continue to be a middling one as their offense ranked 28th in the league in runs.

Next: Twins, Royals