VerlanderScherzerLeylandWe still have no idea who the fifth starting pitcher will eventually be for the Detroit Tigers, but it’s completely possible that they break camp in a couple of weeks with only four starters on their 25 man roster.

The Tigers won’t need a fifth starter until at least April 11 (and they could wait as long as April 14). The way the spring pitching schedule appears to be set right now, the candidates for the final spot would see their final (big league) spring training action on April 1. There’s a ten day gap there in which our mystery man will need to get some work in.


Now it’s completely possible that the fifth starter joins the team as usual and throws an extended bullpen session (or some sort of simulated game) on what would be his normal day (April 6, an off day). But it’s also possible that he could stay in Lakeland to take part in a minor league spring training game that day. This would allow the youngster to continue to tune-up against live action, but it would also allow the big club to carry an extra player for the opening series against Boston.

They might opt to carry Brandon Inge and Danny Worth for a few games, especially if there are still concerns about Miguel Cabrera’s availability to play third base as he heals from his face injury. Or they could choose instead to take both Andy Dirks and Clete Thomas north, although I don’t think this would be a very likely scenario. I don’t see why they would need to carry six outfielders (seven if you include Raburn) with three being relatively light hitting lefties.

If either of the above two scenarios played out, then I think it would be indication that Inge or Thomas ‘won’ the job, and we could expect Worth or Dirks to be optioned to the minor leagues once the team needs to recall their fifth starting pitcher. It just doesn’t seem like Dombrowski and Leyland would have a player ‘make the team’ only to designate him for assignment a few days later.

Another option would be to carry an extra relief pitcher. Pitchers usually don’t go usually super deep into games during the first week, so it may make sense to take a Brayan Villarreal or Luis Marte along in the event that an extra bullpen arm is needed.

Matt Snyder is the editor of The Tigers Den. He can be reached on Twitter @snyder_matthew.