The Tigers were looking for a fifth starter coming into this season after the news broke that Kenny Rogers would be out until July with a blood clot in his shoulder. Immediately, a couple viable candidates to fill in for Rogers came to my mind. Zach Miner filled in admirably after Mike Maroth went down with an injury last year, goung 7-6 with a 4.84 ERA in his first season in the major leagues. Andrew Miller was widely regarded as the best prospect in the 2006 draft after a stellar collegiate career with North Carolina. A 6'6" lefty with a high-90s fastball and a ton of talent, Miller was promising enough to nearly make the Tigers' playoff roster as an untested rookie last season.
So it came as a bit of a surprise when Jim Leyland announced that Chad Durbin, he of the career 17-30 record and 6.14 ERA, would start the season as Detroit's fifth starter. Sure, he had a decent spring training this year, going 3-0, but I'll trust a career of mediocrity over a few decent games in March. Durbin was cast off in 2002 by the Kansas City Royals after a couple subpar years as a starter, and has seen little action in stints with Cleveland and Arizona since.
Today, Durbin had a chance to prove Leyland made the right decision by choosing him over Miner, Miller, and Wilfredo Ledezma, another Tiger with some starting experience. He responded by giving up 6 earned runs and 9 hits in 4 2/3 uninspiring innings, taking the loss in a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles. I know it is only one early season game, but I feel Leyland needs to keep Durbin on a short leash. The AL Central is shaping up to be the toughest in the MLB this season, and every game, even those in April, all count the same in the race for the playoffs. Pitching the journeyman Durbin over the uber-talented Miller and the solid Miner could cost the Tigers valuable games before Rogers comes back mid-season. Why we aren't taking a look at Miller, who has a bright future in the Tigers rotation, when we have an open spot in the rotation makes no sense to me. Hopefully, Leyland will come to his senses and send Durbin down to the minors, where he and all the other Royals castoffs belong.