DENVER, CO - JUNE 18: Starting pitcher Phil Coke #40 of the Detroit Tigers works the fifth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
After another brutal outing by starter-turned-reliever-turned-starter Phil Coke, Tigers manager Jim Leyland announced today that the team would be returning Coke to his previous role in the bullpen, making him a starter-turned-reliever-turned-starter-turned-reliever. It's a tough gig.
But more importantly, while this move may help to take some pressure off of Coke and possibly improve the bullpen, it appears that the Tigers will be looking to acquire a starting pitching sometime soon. Currently, the Tigers boast a fairly solid rotation, but it's top-heavy. Justin Verlander is arguably the best pitcher in all the land right now, and Max Scherzer is still one of the best strikeout pitchers around, but Rick Porcello and Brad Penny have both been fairly underwhelming so far. Both Porcello and Penny are striking out less than 5 guys per 9 innings, borderline unacceptable for a starter on a contender, though they do bring high ground-ball rates.
So, who could the Tigers look at? Obvious options include highly-paid pitchers like Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly and Brett Myers, but the Tigers likely won't want to fork up to pay them. Options that won't be as costly financially but will force the club's farm system to take a bigger hit include Houston's Wandy Rodriguez, Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie and LA's Hiroki Kuroda.
A couple of other names to watch out for: Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez out of Florida. They'd likely be two of the most highly sought names on the market assuming they're actually available, but they're rising salaries and Florida's recent struggles make it a reasonable proposition. We've seen the Tigers and Marlins match up on big-time trades before, too. Remember that Miguel Cabrera kid?