No. 5 Starter Watch: Tigers (and D-Train!)

Well, the Tigers seem to have set their rotation ... but who figured they would send Nate Robertson and cash to the Marlins for a Class A relief pitcher? Not me. The Daily Fungo on the deal:

    For the Tigers’ rotation, it means that Dontrelle Willis and Jeremy Bonderman, both of whom are making final tune-up starts today, are the fourth and fifth starters — but not necessarily in that order. And that Eddie Bonine, another member of the Opening Day roster, will be Jim Leyland’s safety net should either falter.


    Bottom line? The Tigers were going to get bubkus in a trade for Dontrelle Willis so they moved the most marketable major-league pitcher they had. In that regard, this trade makes sense.

    Of course, now the question is: Will the 2010 model of the D-Train be a local or an express?

I'm betting on local. What's a little odd is that Robertson's outpitched Willis this spring, at least statistically. In 20 innings, Robertson's struck out 19 and walked seven. In 15 innings, Willis has struck out 10 and walked eight (both of them have plunked two hitters).

I certainly wouldn't suggest those numbers are particularly meaningful. But considering Willis' recent history, you'd like to see a little more progress in the walks column.

So I suspect that Bonine (and eventually Armando Galarraga) will get more than a dozen starts this season. And I think McClary's right: the Tigers traded Robertson because they could get something for him (no word yet on how many millions of dollars they had to send along with him). That said, they didn't get much more than bupkus; for the moment it's fair to call Jay Voss -- whose upside is LOOGY in two or three years -- "bupkus-plus."

This looks to me like a cost-cutting move. And considering how many millions the Tigers have wasted in the last few years, you can hardly blame them for a bit of trimming.

Update: Early rumors are that the Tigers are paying almost all of Robertson's $10 million salary this season. Considering Voss's presumed future, that means Dave Dombrowski is essentially betting that Dontrelle Willis will be better than Robertson this season.