Originally written on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 10/21/14
Detroit_tigers_vs_56e3
DETROIT How good has the starting rotation of the Detroit Tigers been this postseason? Well, you have to go back 38 years to find a group that was as good at hanging zeroes on the scoreboard, one after another. Justin Verlander pitched eight shutout innings Tuesday night against the New York Yankees to stretch the starters consecutive scoreless innings streak to 30 13. Then No. 9 hitter Eduardo Nunez laced a leadoff homer in the ninth to end the magic in the 2-1 Tigers victory that put them up 3-0 in the ALCS. Verlander started it with a complete game shutout in Game 5 of the ALDS in Oakland against the As. Then Doug Fister went 6 13 scoreless innings in winning Game 1 against the Yankees before Anibal Sanchez blanked them for seven innings in his Game 2 victory. There had not been a streak like it since Hall of Famer Jim Catfish Hunter hooked up with Vida Blue, an MVP and Cy Young Award winner, and two-time All-Star Ken Holtzman in 1974 to shut out the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series for a stretch of 29 consecutive innings. That trio won 607 games in the majors, and provided the heart of a pitching staff that won its third consecutive World Series in 1974. Dominant starting pitching is the bottom line to postseason success, and Detroit certainly has the best four going this year with Wednesday night starter Max Scherzer being a 16-game winner who struck out 231 this season. We have a staff that can take us pretty far, said Tigers catcher Alex Avila. There is no weak link in Detroits chain of pitching. I think pitching is contagious, just like hitting is, Verlander said. And, you know, we are all competitive guys. You see somebody go out there and have a good game, and you want to one-up that guy. He is your friend, I know, but it still gives you the urge to go out there and do better. And I think thats a great thing when you can get your entire rotation doing that. And I think were starting to click at the right time. They, along with fifth starter Rick Porcello, who is in the bullpen for the playoffs, are a close-knit group. They enjoy golfing together and trying to out-do one another in everything from Kentucky Derby pools to fantasy football. And during games, they hang together in the dugout, making observations that are passed along to that days starter. Detroit pitching coach Jeff Jones was asked how important their bond is to their success. Its huge, absolutely huge, Jones said. We have a very, very good staff. Its not just one guy its a number of guys. And they do it together. They have been fun to watch. Verlander, the defending league MVP and Cy Young Award winner, sets the tone. He always wants to be the best, said Jones, who pitched for the Oakland As in their Billy Ball era for Billy Martin. He was as focused as ever going into this season, and he wanted to do better than the year before which was virtually impossible. Verlander ended up 17-8 with a 2.64 ERA and a league-high 239 strikeouts. His excellence has been a constant, and Scherzer also has been strong throughout the season. Max has been tremendous, Jones said, and has gotten a lot better slider going for him. Thats been huge for him this year. His fastball and changeup have always been good, but now his slider is refined. Fister (10-10, 3.45 ERA) found the groove he was in last season, when the Tigers acquired him from the Seattle Mariners and he helped carry them down the stretch along with Verlander. He set an American League record by fanning nine consecutive Kansas City Royals last month. Doug works quick and is changing speeds much better right now, Jones said. Hes got it all going with the breaking ball, sinkers and cutters. Hes very confident and not afraid to throw any pitch in any count. Sanchez was this years trade deadline addition, coming from the Florida Marlins along with second baseman Omar Infante. He struggled to learn his new league before finding his rhythm in September and finishing with a 4-6 record and 3.74 ERA for Detroit. Sanchez has a 1.35 ERA in the postseason. After a slow start, Jones said, Sanchez has really come on. What hes been doing best is being unpredictable for hitters. There is no pattern to read with him. Jack Morris, the ace of the last Tigers World Series winners in 1984, threw out the first pitch before Verlander took the mound against the Yankees. Ill tell you what, Morris said, Justin gets the majority of attention as he probably should because hes at a different level. But, you know, you saw Sanchezs game in New York pretty darned good. I have a lot of faith in him. And Fister, I have been a big fan. And he pitched a big game the other night. And Scherzer, to me, he could strike out more than Justin. He has movement; he is funky; he has it all, too. The Tigers staff has been lights out. They have been great.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Michigan QB talks about racist messages he receives

Giants dethrone Royals in Game 1 of World Series

Devils winger sends zinger about nasty facial cuts

Wife of Royals pitcher leaves World Series ticket as tip

Report: Chandler Jones to miss a month with hip injury

Lance Briggs left Bears' locker room to avoid the fighting

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Could the Seahawks have gotten more for Percy Harvin?

Five storylines to watch in the 2014 World Series

Favre delays Lambeau return due to Bart Starr’s health

Cowboys release Michael Sam from practice squad

Fan in critical condition after being beaten before Bears game

Ben Roethlisberger rips the media

WATCH: Arkansas St. RB scores improbable touchdown

Royals fans sleeping during Game 1 loss at World Series

Matt Flynn had a blast at Pearl Jam concert

Report: Back injury could end Nathan Horton's career

Report: Ray Rice files grievance against Ravens

UEFA Champions League midway report: Groups E – H

PHOTO: Fans place Manning’s 509 football in Hall of Fame

Jets sign Jeremy Kerley to $16M 4-year extension

10 teams that should try to trade for Yoenis Cespedes

Lego stadiums: turning a childhood hobby into a business

Bayless: Kobe's sexual assault trial gave him 'edge' and 'sizzle'

Blackhawks make leukemia patient's dream come true

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Pitcher's wife leaves generous tip

Nicklaus defends Jameis Winston

NFL players who could be traded by the deadline

Royals fans sleeping during Game 1

Rice files grievance against Ravens

UEFA Champions League midway report

Cowboys release Michael Sam

Bayless: Kobe's sexual assault trial gave him 'edge'

10 teams that should try to trade for Yoenis Cespedes

Five storylines to watch in the 2014 World Series

Ben Roethlisberger rips media

NFL Power Rankings Week 7

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.