Tigers have best rotation in MLB, according to Buster Olney

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers got to the World Series last year thanks, in part, to their excellent starting rotation. Buster Olney at ESPN thinks that Detroit's pitching will only improve in 2013.

Buster Olney recently ranked the best starting rotations entering the 2013 season, and the Detroit Tigers finished at the top of his list. Currently the starting rotation is projected as: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello. But Olney suspects that Porcello could still be traded, in which case Drew Smyly would fill in.

In addition, Olney believes that the combination of adding Torii Hunter and removing Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch will improve the team's defense. This would benefit all Detroit pitchers.

Personnel-wise, the Tigers' rotation won't look any different than it did at the end of 2012, but Olney expects the improvement of Max Scherzer and a full season with Anibal Sanchez will make the difference. Scherzer had a rough start to his 2012 campaign, but showed encouraging signs of improvement in August, September, and October.

Right behind Detroit on Olney's list was the Washington Nationals' staff, which includes Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler, and the newly acquired Dan Haren. Last season, the Tampa Bay Rays had the lowest team ERA in baseball, but they traded away James Shields in the offseason. Olney ranks Tampa Bay sixth.

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