The Detroit Tigers got off to a horrid start to spring training; the Tigers are back close to .500 at 10-13. There have been bright spots on offense such as Nick Castellanos and JaCoby Jones who have been consistently good performers this spring. The pitching has been pretty bad this spring. Anibal Sanchez has an ERA over 10. Mike Pelfrey hasn’t pitched well at all. Jordan Zimmerman is off to a rough start as well. There are always bright spots even when things seem to go horribly wrong. Justin Verlander seems to be in mid-season form. Matt Boyd has been solid all spring. The one person that has been very good in my opinion is Daniel Norris.

Norris has had a good spring so far posting a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings of work with 10 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.15. Those numbers aren’t exactly gaudy and don’t scream superstar but Norris could be on the verge of a breakout season. Norris has made progress in his last few starts of 2016. One obvious concern with him is durability. He had thyroid surgery last offseason to remove cancer. He then went on to only pitch in 14 games at the big league level, but did pretty well going 4-2 with a 3.38 ERA. I think it’s only a matter of time before he breaks through.

Norris is the guy the Tigers had to have in the trade that sent David Price to the Toronto Blue Jays that netted them Matt Boyd and minor league flamethrower Jairo Labourt. Boyd has joined Norris with the big club and has pitched very well for the Tigers. Labourt is still very raw and hasn’t made it past advanced A ball.

Another thing that has been holding back Norris is that he has lacked confidence at times while on the mound. He has the stuff. He’s a lefty who throws in the low to mid 90’s to go with a devastating slider that is a legitimate strike out pitch. With an improved curveball and a decent changeup, Norris has all the makings of a top of the line starter for the Tigers for years to come. He is still very young at only 23 years old, but has the ability and the build, 6’2” and 195 lbs, although it could be argued that he could add some muscle but that will come.

Norris has pitched himself to the forefront of the conversation to be the Tigers fourth starter especially if Pelfrey and Sanchez continue to struggle so much in spring. If you don’t know the name Daniel Norris already, there’s a good chance you’ll be hearing it quite often during the 2017 season.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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