April 15, 2014 at 1:25 am

Tom Gage

Tigers through 10: Aces are least of team's worries

Justin Verlander has compiled a 1-1 record with a 2.57 ERA this season. Better still, his strikeouts returned in San Diego. (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press)

Detroit — If not a start, what do you call the first 10 games of the season?

A start of a start.

And when it’s only a start of a start, there’s rarely anything to be ecstatic about, including a 6-4 record.

But also, just as rarely, is there anything to be alarmed about, including a 6-4 record.

Seriously, if you’ve already thrown anything at the television because of the Tigers, you must go through several TVs a year.

From the looks of the tranquility in his office, manager Brad Ausmus hasn’t even broken a pencil in two.

Having played as long as he did in the majors, Ausmus not only knows but understands the long haul the season will be.

Jim Leyland understood it, too. If you don’t, you better not manage.

Ten games into the baseball season is equivalent to one game into the NFL season.

Unless you embarrassed yourself in that one game, after an equally embarrassing season the year before, there are few first-game alarms in the NFL.

But that doesn’t mean arrows don’t point this early in any season. Even in the first breeze, a weather vane responds.

So here’s a first-breeze look at the Tigers’ 25-man roster and how it’s done.

*Justin Verlander: Best sign yet was his strikeouts returned last weekend in San Diego. Seemed to find his swagger.

*Max Scherzer: Hasn’t won yet, which no doubt will worry some. But even after five starts last year, his ERA was substantially (4.02 to 2.70) higher than it is now.

*Anibal Sanchez: Hasn’t really made much of a pitching impression yet. But he has that long RBI double in Los Angeles.

*Rick Porcello: Would have been nice to follow one strong start with another, but he didn’t.

*Drew Smyly: Needed in relief, but deserves to start. So he’ll start Wednesday night. Not easily replaced in bullpen, though.

*Joe Nathan: Made the mistake of thinking that dead arm doesn’t sound scary. Dead anything sounds scary for a closer, or any player.

*Ian Krol: Brought back to Earth somewhat by Xavier Nady’s 422-footer last weekend, but looks sharp all the same.

*Phil Coke: Yes, two of the outs were hit well, but he threw a 1-2-3 inning against the Padres. Progress.

*Joba Chamberlain: Took a loss in L.A. because of a leadoff walk, but he’s thrown well. Six strikeouts in three innings.

*Al Alburquerque: His devastating slider is still devastating — much of the time. Has been hurt with other pitches, though.

*Evan Reed: Not a factor so far, at least not since the opener. In fact, he hasn’t pitched when the score was close since the opener.

*Luke Putkonen: Waited so long for his first appearance that Ausmus’ message one day to him was: “You have a bad manager who can’t get you into a game.”

*Alex Avila: Has had contact problems with 14 strikeouts in 23 at-bats. Not looking confused at the plate, but having a rough time so far.

*Bryan Holaday: Became the No. 3 catcher for a while because of interleague games, but needs another start soon to ward off rust.

*Miguel Cabrera: Repeat after Ausmus: “Nothing to be concerned about, nothing to be concerned about.” We’re spoiled, aren’t we?

*Ian Kinsler: Fun to watch so far, and impressive to watch so far. Looks like he has his game entirely together.

*Alex Gonzalez: Has gone 3-for-20 without a peep of production since the opener and defense has been only OK at best.

*Andrew Romine: Has been defensively impressive at short, reacting well to all sorts of challenges. No sign of being able to hit, though.

*Nick Castellanos: Whoa, boy, settle down on the bases, OK? Otherwise, you’re doing just fine.

*Victor Martinez: No one you’d rather have at the plate so far when a clutch hit has been needed. Repeat, no one. Still has struck out only once.

*Rajai Davis: Fly, Rajai, fly. It’s what you do best, being a bona fide burner. But you’ve done more than run so far. You’ve hit .345.

*Austin Jackson: A complete makeover from table-setter to run-producer, and knock on wood, the transformation appears to be working. Looking comfortable in new role.

*Torii Hunter: Still the classiest guy around. Did you see the little tip of the cap he gave former Tigers reliever Joaquin Benoit last weekend when facing him? “Just thanking him for what he did for us,” Hunter said.

*Don Kelly: Watch out for that wall, Don, watch out ... too late. When he’s not been crashing into barriers and fences, he’s done everything asked of him — as usual.

*Tyler Collins: The hits haven’t fallen so far, but it’s not as if the Tigers have a big choice of other left-handed hitters. Could be a candidate for those dreaded words “needs to go down and play.”



On deck: Indians

Series: Three games, Tuesday-Thursday, Comerica Park, Detroit

First pitch: 7:08 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 1:08 p.m. Thursday

TV-radio: FSD Tuesday and Thursday, FSD+ on Wednesday/97.1

Probables: Tuesday — RHP Zach McAllister (1-0, 2.31) vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 3.00). Wednesday — RHP Danny Salazar (0-1, 6.75) vs LHP Drew Smyly (1-0, 0.00). Thursday — RHP Justin Masterson (0-0, 5.87) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (1-1, 2.57)

Scouting report

McAllister: No decision at Oakland in first start. Went 723 shutout innings at home against San Diego his second start.

Sanchez: Both starts have been victories for the Tigers, but not for him — rain delay knocked him out in debut; ninth-inning comeback by Dodgers ended his second start.

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