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Detroit Tigers: Does loaded rotation mask bullpen issues?

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Jul 22, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Ian Krol grabs his head as he reacts after giving up two runs in the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jul 22, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Ian Krol grabs his head as he reacts after giving up two runs in the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers have an embarrassment of riches in their starting rotation after acquiring left-hander David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday.

With that deal, the Tigers can now throw the last three American League Cy Young Award winners out there—Justin Verlander (2011), Price (2012) and Max Scherzer (2013).

It’s a rare combination historically.

The Tigers are the first team in five years to combine three Cy Young winners in one rotation, the last being the San Francisco Giants in 2009 with Randy Johnson, Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum. However, Johnson was on his last legs and Zito was far from his 2002 Cy Young form.

The Atlanta Braves had three Cy Young winners on their staff from 1993-99 and 2001-02, with some combination of Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux teamed with Steve Bedrosian (1993-95) and John Smoltz (1996-99, 01-02).

But things may not be as rosy as they seem for Detroit. Verlander hasn’t been the same Verlander who won 41 games, had 489 strikeouts and posted a 2.52 ERA and 0.987 WHIP in 2011-12.

In 2014, Verlander is 10-9 with a 4.66 ERA and a career-worst 1.420 WHIP in 23 starts and 150.2 innings. His 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings is the lowest since his rookie year (6.0).

And, oh, that Detroit bullpen.

The Tigers are 14th of 15 teams in the AL with a 4.58 bullpen ERA through Saturday. Opponents are hitting .274 against Detroit’s relief corps and the Tiger relievers have an unattractive 1.47 WHIP—last in the American League.

Here is a look at the Tiger relief corps as it is currently constituted, as well as some relievers who may still be available to get through waivers this month:

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Tags: Al Albuquerque Detroit Tigers Joakim Soria Joba Chamberlain Joe Nathan Lists MLB Phil Coke

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