A month into the season, all four AL Central teams have found new leaders in their starting rotation.
Indians: They still have Corey Kluber every fifth day, but the emergence of hard-throwing righty Danny Salazar, 25, is transforming the rotation. In 23 innings, Salazar has struck out 26 batters, and his ERA is a team-best 2.35.
Royals: They were criticized for overpaying Ian Kennedy (five years, $70 million), but with Jason Vargas lost for the season and Johnny Cueto lost to free agency, the 10-year veteran has been a godsend. Even at 31, Kennedy is a strikeout pitcher, and his 2.77 ERA has stabilized a rotation that remains KC’s weakness.
Tigers: Even when they agreed to pay $110 million for five years, hoping he would offset Justin Verlander’s slow decline, Detroit couldn’t have expected near-perfection from former Nationals righthander Jordan Zimmermann. But the 29-year-old Wisconsin native has allowed only one run in four starts, giving him an 0.35 ERA that leads the AL.
White Sox: Signing eight-year NL veteran Mat Latos to a one-year, $3 million deal has looked like a brilliant move for Chicago. Latos opened the season with four consecutive victories, and has allowed only two runs, giving him an 0.74 ERA. Along with Chris Sale (1.66) and Jose Quintana (1.47), the Sox may have the Central’s best rotation.