Paul Wezner, Senior Editor
There are any number of scenarios that could play out here, and as much as I'd like to claim that we're going to see a run from someone like Jack Hannahan, it really boils down to two players (and coincidentally, the top two on the list). But who will win that fifth spot - Justin Verlander or Joel Zumaya? A lot will come down to spring performance, but as of August, there simply wasn't much of a comparison. Zumaya is an incredible talent, but he still could use some polish - he has a habit of over-throwing and letting the ball get up in the zone, and he still has some issues with endurance. For those reasons, Verlander is the odds-on favorite to snag the final spot in the rotation and be the first among the prospects to appear in Detroit.
Mark Anderson, Minor League Editor
There are two obvious possible answers to this question. Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya. Both players are mortal locks to make their Major League debuts during the 2006 season, it's just a matter of when that actually happens. If all the hype surrounding this dynamic pitching duo is correct, both have a very good chance to break camp on the Tiger's 25-man roster. Despite all these similarities, there is one glaring difference; all talk seems to be that Verlander has the inside track on the 5th spot in the rotation, while Zumaya seems to be discussed more and more in the context of the bullpen. If these two likely scenarios play out, I see Zumaya making his Major League debut first; coming out of the bullpen sometime in the first eight games of the season, before a fifth starter is even necessary. Both players will likely get plenty of chances to develop and strut their stuff on the big stage this season, but I think it ends up being Zumaya who toes the Comerica Park rubber first.
Jason Avery, Amateur Baseball Editor
I think the answer here is Justin Verlander. He is a leading candidate to win a spot in the rotation and has already has had a small taste by reaching the majors last year for two starts. Joel Zumaya certainly should get a lot of support, but I think he needs more seasoning at Toledo than Verlander does (should JV return to Toledo). Of course, there is also the possibility that both of them come north, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Other candidates include Tony Giarratano, should Carlos Guillen get hurt, and Kevin Whelan could also provide bullpen depth if he produces like he did in his debut.
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