So I hear pitching is important in this game of hardball. Luckily, after 120 years of Tigers baseball I have quite a crew of pitchers to choose from. I'm going with an 11 man staff and a 5 man starting rotation. Really, I could have gone with less than 11 since I have some serious innings eaters on this staff, but I didn't want my relievers getting bored out there by themselves.
Before I get into the staff, there are a couple of notable players left off of the team. If this were a "best season" team rather than a career Tiger team there's no way that I could leave off Mark Fidrych. But the bird man doesn't make the cut as his career numbers are actually more in line with a Doug Fister. Also, if Max Scherzer signs with the Tigers this off-season he likely would make the team as well. As it is now, however, his career numbers aren't good enough.
Enough talking, you want to see the staff! Here they are.
SP#1 Hal Newhouser (1939-1953) - Newhouser is my opening day pitcher. Consider just some of his numbers. 200 Tiger wins. 3.07 career Tiger ERA. Just shy of 3000 innings and nearly 1800 strikeouts. Those are some powerful numbers. Newhouser starts opening day.
SP#2 Justin Verlander (2005-Present) - If Verlander would quit having seasons like this last one he'd likely be my opening day starter. Instead he sits as my #2 starter. He's passed Newhouser in career Tiger strikeouts and has his eyes set on taking over as the leader in that category someday. Career WHIP of 1.21 is very impressive as well.
SP#3 Mickey Lolich (1963-1975) - Did someone mention something about a career strikeout leader? That's Mickey! 2,679 K's. That's a ton! Really, Lolich could be my second starter, but I don't want two lefties throwing in a row. Gotta turn those hitters around.
SP#4 Jack Morris (1977-1990) - Jack the Cat joins Lolich as members of the 3,000 Tiger innings pitched club. He came up 2 wins short of 200 for the Tigers. Obviously a big part of the 1984 World Series team. I saw him pitch Game 4 of that series at Tiger Stadium.
SP#5 Denny McLain (1963-1970) - McLain will be our fifth starter. We will be hiring Don Kelly to spend all his time hanging out with Denny to make sure the guy with an outstanding WHIP of 1.11 stays out of trouble.
The bullpen starts with these three old guys. They're actually starters, but you don't need to tell Tiger fans that their bullpen has kinda sucked all-time. So, we're throwing a bunch of stud starters out there. Dizzy Trout (1939-1952), Hooks Dauss (1912-1926), and George Mullin (1902-1913) will be ready to go if we see 2014 Justin Verlander or if Denny McLain starts spending time with his mob friends. That's nearly a combined 600 Tiger wins waiting for action.
John Hiller (1965-1980) will be my lefty specialist out of the pen. Hiller saved 125 games and also started 43 for the Tigers at a time when relievers didn't just throw 1 inning. A very valuable member of the 1968 team.
Can't have a team without Mr. Butt chin! Mike Henneman (1987-1995) is the best right handed reliever the Tigers have had. Not a ringing endorsement, but it's what we have. That's why our starters are going 9 innings often. Henneman does have 154 Tiger saves. (The other options were Todd Jones and Jose Valverde. Yikes!)
When Verlander throws 100 pitches after 5 innings, someone's gotta lock the game down. That job goes to Guillermo (don't call me Willie) Hernandez (1984-1989). Although Hernandez wasn't there many years it was quite a ride when he was. Hopefully, he throws like he did during the Willie years.
There you have it. That's the team! Let me know what you think, and what team you'd like me to come up with next!