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Ranking the Tigers' starting pitchers through 3 starts

Starting rotation leads Tigers to 8-7 start this season

Leon Halip/Getty Images
Leon Halip/Getty Images

DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers are already 15 games into the regular season, and starting pitching has been the team's greatest strength to this point.

As a staff, the Tigers' rotation has posted 10 quality starts and has allowed 41 earned runs in 83.1 innings. Considering nine of those runs came in one game, the group as a whole has been very strong.

But who has been the Tigers' best starter three times through the rotation? We ranked the starters 1-5 based on their performances so far.

5. Jordan Zimmermann

Stats: 16.2 innings, 10 strikeouts, 7 walks, 11 earned runs

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Jordan Zimmermann is coming off the worst season of his career, and the early returns in 2017 haven't been promising.

Zimmermann battled through a solid first start against a depleted Red Sox lineup and hasn't been effective since. He issued five walks in a 10-batter span against the Twins and got knocked around for 10 hits in six innings against the Rays (though his defense certainly didn't help him).

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Last season, Zimmermann was dominant in April and battled injuries the rest of the summer. This season, the Tigers are just hoping he can be a solid middle-of-the-rotation contributor.

4. Daniel Norris

Stats: 17 innings, 11 strikeouts, 9 walks, 7 earned runs

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It's been a strange start to the season for Norris, who's demonstrated really good stuff in his first three starts.

Norris dominated the Indians on April 14, holding them to two hits and no runs despite walking four batters and throwing nearly as many balls as strikes. It was Norris' second straight quality start.

In his most recent start, Norris was victimized by the poor Tigers' defense at Tropicana Field. He never really recovered, allowing eight hits and four earned runs in just 4.2 innings.

Norris has potential to be one of the Tigers' best starting pitchers, and he's been very good since the middle of last season.

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3. Matt Boyd

Stats: 14.1 innings, 11 strikeouts, 8 walks, 6 earned runs

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If not for a shaky first start in Chicago, Boyd would be No. 1 on this list. He lasted just 2.1 innings and gave up five runs on five hits and four walks.

Since then, he's allowed just one run on eight hits and four walks in 12 innings.

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Most Tigers fans probably feel more comfortable with Boyd on the mound than Zimmermann, but he's still technically the team's No. 5 starter. Despite the occasional disastrous start, Boyd has proven he has the potential to be as good as a No. 3 starter, even by the end of this season.

Boyd has never pitched 100 innings in an MLB season, but barring injury, he'll easily top that this year. At 26 years old, the Tigers are finding out exactly what they have in the young lefty.

2. Justin Verlander

Stats: 17.1 innings, 18 strikeouts, 5 walks, 11 earned runs

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For the better part of a decade, Justin Verlander has been the Tigers' undisputed ace. This season, it's more of the same.

Verlander had one of the worst starts of his career in Cleveland, allowing nine earned runs on three homers and 11 hits. He lasted just four innings.

But in his first two starts, Verlander was mostly ace-like. He pitched more than six frames in both starts, allowing just two earned runs and nine hits in 13.1 innings overall.

Verlander is the only Tigers starter averaging more than a strikeout per inning (18 K's in 17.1 innings), and walks haven't been a major issue.

1. Michael Fulmer

Stats: 18 innings, 16 strikeouts, 5 walks, 6 earned runs

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Want an example of how good Michael Fulmer could be for the Tigers? He's been their best starting pitcher through three outings, and he hasn't had his best stuff in any of them.

Fulmer is the only starter who's given the Tigers three straight quality starts to begin the season. He hasn't been dominant -- he allowed three runs in six innings each of his last two starts -- but he's been good enough to give the Tigers a chance to win all three games. The other starters can't say that.

Fulmer has struck out 16 batters in 18 innings, allowing just 14 hits and five walks. His 1.06 WHIP is by far the best on the team (second is Verlander at 1.44).

He's only 24 years old, but Fulmer is already one of the team's best starting pitchers.