A younger rotation might not have been what Tigers manager Brad Ausmus envisioned at the start of the season, but he’s finding little to complain about these days. With Mike Pelfrey and Jordan Zimmerman crowding the disabled list, rookie right-hander Michael Fulmer and sophomore lefties Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris have bolstered the rotation, while tried-and-true veterans like Anibal Sanchez have shown signs of consistency in the second half.
Since July, the Tigers’ rotation has played off of a collective 3.43 ERA, good for second-lowest among major league clubs. Their 2.12 BB/9 is also good for second-lowest in the league, although their 7.49 K/9 skews more toward the middle of the pack. Much of the credit can be given to Justin Verlander, and deservedly so, as Detroit’s ace halved his ERA to 2.04 during the second half of the season. The club has benefited from an airtight bullpen, too, one that doesn’t appear to have any major holes in it despite a couple of sub-par outings from left-hander Justin Wilson last month and a lingering blister that moved Shane Greene to a relief role earlier in the year.
On Saturday, the Tigers added to their ranks with left-hander Joe Mantiply, another promising rookie out of Triple-A Toledo. Prior to his Triple-A promotion, during which the 25-year-old allowed one home run, one walk, and struck out seven in 8 ⅓ innings, Mantiply worked a 2.47 ERA with Double-A Erie, polishing off a 62/11 K/BB rate through 51 innings. As for his role within Detroit’s pitching staff, Ausmus envisions Mantiply in middle relief, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com:
Mantiply more likely to be used for lefty-lefty matchup in middle innings, Ausmus said. Justin Wilson, Kyle Ryan still primary options late.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) September 3, 2016
Mantiply certainly isn’t the only important cog in this machine, but with Verlander leading the charge, a slew of young, talented arms in the rotation and the ‘pen, and the eighth-best run percentage in the majors, he’ll help keep it running smoothly.