Why Blake Snell and Aaron Nola Must Be at the Top of the Detroit Tigers Christmas List

Tigers Christmas List

The Tigers are coming off a decent season in 2023, finishing 78-84 and placing 2nd in the AL Central. Guys like Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene, Kerry Carpenter, Jake Rogers, and even Matt Vierling were vital contributors to a team that improved their win total by 12 games from 2022 (66-96).

This offseason got off to a great start as right as it began. The Tigers made the first notable trade by any team, and it was a steal, acquiring solid outfielder Mark Canha from the Brewers for a half-eaten bag of Skittles. But they also lost the anchor of their pitching staff, with Eduardo Rodriguez opting out of his contract and electing free agency, and understandably, there hasn’t been an attempt to re-sign him.

In mid-May, Rodriguez had an ERA as low as 1.57, which led the league. But after he tore a ligament in his pitching hand, he pitched to an ERA over 4.00 the rest of the season, finishing with a solid ERA of 3.30, but the way he pitched during the dog days when Detroit still had a slim chance at a division title was not very encouraging.

Still, he was a great option when Tarik Skubal was injured and recovering from surgery, and he was reliable for the most part. But now Eduardo is gone and most likely not returning. But no worries, this free agent class is full of superstar pitchers, such as Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Sonny Gray, and our two spotlight guys for this piece: Blake Snell and Aaron Nola.

We’ll start with Snell. He’s due to turn 31 in 3 weeks (happy early birthday), and although the age might be a turn-off for some fans, he was still the best pitcher in the National League last year, boasting a 2.25 ERA. That is 1.10 points less than Rodriguez. Snell is basically the same guy as Rodriguez in all departments, but better. Lower ERA, more strikeouts, a league-high 182 ERA+ (82% above league average). The only downside about Snell is that he had a league-high 99 walks. But Snell and Rodriguez are both left-handed pitchers, so Detroit would be getting a clear upgrade while paying around the same amount they would have with Rodriguez. Snell would be an A+ signing.

Now, onto the more risky pitcher of the two: Aaron Nola. Nola struggled last season. His 4.46 ERA was the 2nd worst of his career (minimum 26 starts). His WAR of 2.2 is around average for a starting player, his ERA+ was 96 (4% below league average), and he had the second-worst Fielding Independent Pitching stat (FIP) of his career. Still, it’s Aaron Nola. 2023 was only the third season of his eight-year career that he was considered below average, and when he’s on, he’s on. He’s placed in the top seven in CYA voting three different seasons, has received MVP votes, is a former All-Star, has led the MLB in complete games and/or shutouts two other times, and he has something the Tigers need right now: playoff pitching experience.

Although, at this point, I would like the Tigers to sign Blake Snell over Nola since that sounds like the clear best choice, I wouldn’t be upset with either guy. As long as the Tigers are improving, I’m a happy man.

Eldon Ross

What’s up! My name is Eldon, and I am an aspiring journalist. I hope you enjoyed what you read on here. Have a good day!

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