Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit
By STEVE KORNACKI  |  Last updated 8/2/13
DETROIT Perhaps the most significant point to be made about the Detroit Tigers at the trade deadline was something they did not do. They were virtually the only team in baseball with absolutely no interest in obtaining a starting pitcher. Think about that for a second. Thats a truly impressive statement, and it speaks to the kind of rotation Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski has assembled and pitching coach Jeff Jones has refined. Doug Fister was brutal on the Chicago White Sox in Friday nights 2-1 win. He required only 88 pitches to mow through their lineup for eight innings, and improved to 10-5 with a 3.52 ERA. Fister gave up one run on seven hits, and didnt walk anyone. His command was as good as it gets. It marked the 13th time in the last 16 games that a Tigers starter posted a quality start, and before next week is over Detroit could have five starters at the 10-win plateau or beyond. These guys are untouchable, said Tigers catcher Brayan Pena. When you have this rotation, it is everybodys envy. All of our starters are No. 1 or No. 2 starters. Thats why Alex (Avila) and I are so excited. We get to be a part of history, a part of what these guys are doing. But, make no mistake about it: Avila and Pena also are a big part of working with this staff to make them all they can be. The White Sox scratched out one run off Fister in the sixth inning, and must now face Max Scherzer (15-1, 3.01 ERA) on Saturday night. Then, on Sunday, Detroit sends Rick Porcello (8-6, 4.49 ERA) to the mound. That might sound like the break the White Sox are waiting for, but look at Porcellos July numbers: 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. He actually had more wins and a lower earned run average than All-Star Game starter Scherzer had last month. And this is the teams No. 5 starter a guy who had to beat out Drew Smyly in spring training just to stay in the rotation. Smyly has been a godsend to the bullpen, and actually gives Detroit a sixth dynamite starter in the wings. Anibal Sanchez (9-7, 2.59 ERA) struck out a franchise-record 17 against the Atlanta Braves, who happen to be running away with the National League East. Justin Verlander (11-8, 3.88 ERA) is second on the staff in wins despite having his most struggles in five years. But now he has his knee-buckling curveball back, and the 2012 All-Star Game starter and 2011 American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner could be ready to roll. Dombrowski acquired Fister from the Seattle Mariners (2011) and Sanchez from the Florida Marlins (2012) at the last two trade deadlines, and obtained Scherzer in the blockbuster, three-team deal that had Curtis Granderson go to the New York Yankees from Detroit. Verlander and Porcello were first-round picks quickly developed in the farm system and refined upon reaching the majors after making 20 and 24 starts in the minors, respectively. Fister and Sanchez have become significantly better since joining the Tigers, while Verlander, Scherzer and Porcello also have improved under the tutelage of Jones. Jones does a tremendous job with them, Pena said. He makes each one of them better so we can get to our goal of the World Series and winning it all. Much is made of how these five starters feed off each other, but what they really do is learn from one another. Watch them and Jones in the dugout during games. They are constantly talking, and its not about their plans for later tonight or something on the scoreboard. Though, Verlander does have a lot of fun with Scherzer when the video of fans trying to spell Scherzers last name comes up and that female fan adds that hes a hot guy. They are having a blast in every way. Its such an honor to be part of this rotation, Fister said. Its been a humbling experience for me. And we learn from each other. In the first couple innings, I was going over to Rick and asking him what he was seeing. Porcello is a sinker-ball pitcher, and on Friday night Fister went mostly fastball-sinker before mixing in his curveball. So, he went to the pitcher on the staff who throws the most sinkers, and also happens to be a good friend. He helped me with a bunch of little things, Fister said. The joy in the eyes of the pitchers is hard to miss. Were all playing together on this team, Fister said, and thats what were going for playing together. And together, they are a five-armed mound beast -- an unrivaled rotation in todays game.
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