The Tigers moved to shore up their pitching after the 1992 season, when 12 different hurlers started games.
In the winter, the Tigers signed free agent righty Mike Moore, who had some success with the Oakland A's and Seattle Mariners in his 11-year career. Then, just before the season, the Tigers signed lefty David Wells, who'd been released by Toronto. The Tigers also hoped that young John Doherty, 26, could be a reliable starter.
The patchwork rotation worked, sort of. At least the Tigers got 30+ starts from Moore, Wells and Doherty. And veteran Bill Gullickson gave them 28 starts. But the starts weren't very good.
Moore, especially, struggled and he felt the wrath from the fans. His fat contract wasn't commensurate with what he was giving the Tigers. All summer his ERA was above 5.00, and for several weeks, above 6.00. He had his moments---a one-hitter against the Royals; another against the A's; a two-hitter against the White Sox---but mostly he was a shadow of his former self.
The other starters didn't fare much better; Wells' 4.19 ERA was the best among the rotation guys.
But the Tigers had offense---oh, did they have offense!
Adding to the potent offense was the return of a local kid and fan favorite---Kirk Gibson, who was semi-retired after spending an injury-plagued month with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992. The Tigers decided to gamble on the 36-year-old Gibson and signed him to a contract in February.
Twice in the season's opening month---within four days of each other---the Tigers scored 20 runs in a game, as they got off to a 13-5 start.
The Tigers' big bats kept them in the race. In late-August, the Tigers were in fourth place, 71-63 and six games out of first. GM Jerry Walker made a move---he acquired veteran slugger Eric Davis from the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 31.
Davis was 31 and coming off several injury-plagued years. But in his first game as a Tiger, Davis went 2-for-4 and slammed a home run but the Tigers lost to the White Sox.
The Tigers fell short in their bid to take the division, but Davis hit six September home runs in 75 at-bats.
The team did finish above .500, though---at 85-77, tied for third place, 10 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays.
C/DH Mickey Tettleton led the team with 32 homers and Cecil Fielder added 30. But Rob Deer slumped to 14 roundtrippers. The vaunted DP combo of SS Alan Trammell and 2B Lou Whitaker, once again, had trouble staying on the field. Trammell played in 112 games, Whitaker 119. Gibson, in his comeback year, had 403 AB and batted .261 with 13 homers.
It was a nice bounce back from the disappointment of 1992, but the Tigers couldn't help but wonder what their fate would have been, had their starting rotation not failed them so miserably.By GregEno
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- Alan Trammell, Bill Gullickson, Cecil Fielder, David Wells, Detroit Tigers, John Doherty, Kirk Gibson, Lou Whitaker, Mickey Tettleton, Mike Moore, Rob Deer