A case for Chad Durbin in the starting rotation

Watching Chad Durbin’s performance this evening has cemented something I’ve been thinking about the past few weeks. Chad Durbin should remain in the starting rotation for the Tigers.

Detroit has many decisions coming up regarding both their starting five as well as the bullpen, some of which I wrote about in yesterday’s blog with the return of Kenny Rogers. One of the key decisions will be who should remain in the starting 5 and who should not. The first four starters are pretty much set:

  • Jeremy Bonderman (RHP)
  • Kenny Rogers (LHP)
  • Justin Verlander (RHP)
  • Nate Robertson (LHP)

Robertson is the most questionable since he is coming off a DL stint with a ‘tired arm’ and we will quickly see if he has worked out of his slump in an upcoming rehab start in Erie.

Outside of those starting four there are three Tigers vying for the last spot: Mike Maroth, Andrew Miller and Chad Durbin. We do know that Andrew Miller is still in the rotation and will start Sunday, two days after Kenny’s return. Trade rumors are also growing for Mike Maroth. So what should happen?

1.) Trade Mike Maroth for bullpen help. It’s obvious that the Tigers are shopping Maroth around and there is some bullpen help out there though whether the deals make sense or not is in question. Jon Paul Morosi at the Free Press indicated this evening that the recent extension for the Texas GM could help push a trade along:

Now that Daniels’ near-term job security is no longer an issue, he may feel greater freedom to make trades. And he just happens to have one of baseball’s more impressive stockpiles of trade-ready relievers, including Akinori Otsuka and Eric Gagne.

There is no certainty here and Gagne is not shying away from voicing is desire to not be traded, particularly to a team where he won’t be the closer. This makes Otsuka a possibly nicer target with another positive that he won’t be a free agent until 2009. Akinori Otsuka is having a good year with a 22/7 K/BB ratio and a 2.03 ERA over 26.7 innings of work.

If a deal could not be reached then Mike Maroth himself could be used to bolster the bullpen.

2.) Move Andrew Miller back to the Erie Seawolves. Or Toledo. Despite Miller’s couple nice starts he could use some more time outside of the bigs. Miller has avoided big run innings but has had to pitch out of a number of jams which, to his credit, he has done with seaming ease. He has had trouble finding a true strikeout pitch and found himself walking a number of batters after getting ahead.

Miller still has options and still has time. I don’t see him going from pitching in college to picking up a full, albeit half-year, starter role with the Tigers. He will be a great backup for spot starts throughout the second half and, depending on progress, maybe a longer term role as a starter. He is not an option for the bullpen.

3.) Keep Chad Durbin as the #5 man. Durbin came into the season with a very tall order: Fill in for Kenny Rogers. He’s been better than I suspect most believed or even considered and because of that deserves a shot at remaining a starter.

Durbin is among the Top 3 Tiger pitchers by VORP:

Pitcher VORP
Justin Verlander 27.3
Jeremy Bonderman 13.1
Chad Durbin 8.6

This is pretty impressive.

One other issue of note is that Durbin is out of options meaning that if he were to be sent down, which I don’t think would happen even if he had options left, he would have to clear waivers. It’s a virtual certainty that another team would grab him if he were to be sent down. So for Durbin it is either that he remains in the rotation or he is moved to the bullpen.

Durbin will be an asset anywhere he pitches for the Tigers this year and I believe that any situation where Durbin or Miller or even Maroth remains in the starting role will be just fine. Durbin has earned a spot as a starter and tonights 6 inning, 5k, 1 ER performance solidified that in my mind.

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4 Responses to A case for Chad Durbin in the starting rotation

  1. Pingback: Tigers fail to bottle offense for tomorrow » Mack Avenue Tigers : A Detroit Tigers Blog

  2. Ian C. says:

    I totally agree. I suppose no one “deserves” anything in sports, but Durbin has pitched well enough to keep a spot in the starting rotation.

    Send the guy who hasn’t pitched very well lately – Nate Robertson – to the bullpen when he returns. I acknowledge it probably won’t happen as long as the Tigers can (and maybe should) send Andrew Miller to the minors. But it would be nice to see the pitcher who’s doing the better job be rewarded for it.

  3. ZAPPATISTA says:

    Totally agree, Durbin has been way better that servicable. He isn’t going to overpower anyone, but he has shown the ability to manage the game very well. No one can really put their finger on “Nasty” Nate, and I certainly hope that he can turn it around, but Durbin has been too steady to jeopordize his confidence.

  4. Akhilleus13 says:

    The Tigers just added McBride to the bullpen, and it looks like he won’t be the one sent to the minors to make room for Rogers: http://www.thenewsroom.com/details/428652?c_id=wom-bc-bh
    - Brad from The Sports Desk at TheNewsRoom.com

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