Saturday, March 9, 2019

Detroit Tigers 2019 season preview

            


               Being in the beginning years of a re-build isn't very fun. But for most teams, the third year is when they look up to the next two years. After two seasons of 64 wins, the Detroit Tigers are still on the way down. They have one of the worst contracts in baseball in Miguel Cabrera, and another in Jordan Zimmermann. While the team waits for the prospects from the Justin Verlander trade to blossom, their team will continue to fall.

               Offseason additions: INF Josh Harrison, SS Jordy Mercer, RHP Tyson Ross, LHP Matt Moore, INF Brandon Dixon, C Cameron Rupp, C Bobby Wilson, INF Gordon Beckham

               Offseason subtractions: DH Victor Martinez, LHP Fransisco Liriano, C James McCann, INF Dixon Machado, SS Jose Iglesias, RHP Alex Wilson, 1B Jim Adduci

               Rotation
The rotation is still awaiting first overall pick Casey Mize, plus Franklin Perez, Matt Matting, Beau Burrows and Alex Faedo to arrive. 2016 rookie of the year winner Michael Fulmer's ERA over the last two seasons is 115 points higher than his 3.06 ERA in '16. Jordan Zimmermann had a 3.32 career ERA in seven seasons before signing with Detroit, and had averaged 202.2 innings pitched over the last four seasons. Since coming to town, he has a 5.24 ERA, with 132 innings a season in three years. He still slots in as starter number two. Matt Boyd led the team in starts with 31, and his ERA improved to 4.39. Daniel Norris hasn't been able to make over 18 starts in his career, and his 4.56 career ERA is much lower than his potential. The final spot will go to either one of Tyson Ross or Matt Moore. Ross's recent past has been much better. The team could also go with an opener.

                  Bullpen
The Tigers would rather have Robbie Ray, but they will have to settle with Shane Greene. Greene saved 32 games in 2018, but had an ERA over 5.00. Joe Jimenez made the all-star team in 2018, but his 4.31 ERA isn't impressive. Former starter Buck Farmer had a career year, with a 4.15 ERA. So did Blaine Hardy, who also made 13 starts. Louis Coleman is only in camp on a minor league deal, but was one of their best relievers last year. Victor Alcantara pitched just 30 innings in 2018, but his 2.40 ERA was impressive. Also returning is Daniel Stumpf and Drew VerHagen.

                   Catching
The Tigers didn't sign James McCann, and let walk to the White Sox. His former backup, John Hicks, was primarily a first baseman in 2018, and we will see him there even more in 2019. The only catcher listed on their 40 man roster is Grayson Greiner, who made his debut in a 30 game cameo last year. But, they have six catchers in camp as NRIs. My favorite is Hector Sanchez, who missed all of 2018 because of injuries, but hit eight home runs in 175 at bats for San Diego in 2017. More realistically, it is between Cameron Rupp and Bobby Wilson for backup catcher.

                    Infield
The Tigers signed the middle infield of the Pirates, adding Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison. Harrison is more versatile, and can play around the infield and outfield. The team would rather have Niko Goodrum, who had an impressive rookie season, as a utility man. First base will go to Hicks. Jeimer Candelario hit 19 home runs in his rookie year, after being acquired in a July 2017 trade for Justin Wilson and Alex Avila.

                    Outfield
When Candelario was acquired, Nicholas Castellanos was moved to right field. Castellanos had a .854 OPS, plus 23 home runs and a .298 average in a career 2018. He will likely be moved in July. Christin Stewart hit 23 home runs in AAA Toledo, and can win the left field job. Center field is between JaCoby Jones and Mikie Mahtook. They combined for 20 home runs in 2018, with both hitting in the low .200s.

                    DH/Bench
Miguel Cabrera was looking like his old self before tearing his bicep and ending his season after 38 games. The former triple crown winner, two time MVP and 11 time all-star will play mostly at DH in 2019. The loser of the Jones/Mahtook battle will be the 4th outfielder, and the team could also carry Victor Reyes. Ronny Rodriguez and Niko Goodrum are utility infielders. The backup catcher role is between many players.

                     Lineup
2B Josh Harrison
RF Nicholas Castellanos
DH Miguel Cabrera
3B Jeimer Candelario
LF Christin Stewart
1B John Hicks
SS Jordy Mercer
CF JaCoby Jones
C Grayson Greiner

                     Rotation
Michael Fulmer (R)
Jordan Zimmermann (R)
Matthew Boyd (L)
Daniel Norris (L)
Tyson Ross (R)

                     Bullpen
Shane Greene (R)
Joe Jimenez (R)
Buck Farmer (R)
Blaine Hardy (L)
Daniel Stumpf (L)
Victor Alcantara (R)
Louis Coleman (R)

                     Bench
C Cameron Rupp
INF Ronny Rodriguez
UT Niko Goodrum
OF Mikie Mahtook

                     Additional Information
Ballpark: Comerica Park
Manager: Ron Gardenhire
GM: Al Avila
World Series Championships: 4
2018 record: 64-98

                      Steal of the Decade
The Tigers have had their fair share of bad trades this decade, giving up players like Eugenio Suarez Robbie Ray. But they haven't had an absolute win. The closest was a 2012 trade that netted the team pitcher Anibal Sanchez and 2B Omar Infante. They gave up pitchers Jacob Turner and Brian Flynn, plus catcher Rob Brantly. Brantly looked impressive for Miami in 2012, but never has been given a shot in the bigs. Flynn was terrible with Miami, but has become a decent reliever in KC. The main prospect in the deal, Turner, had one good year in 2013 for the Marlins, but was traded to the Cubs. He actually played for both the Marlins and Tigers in 2018, and allowed 10 runs in 6.2 innings. On the other side, Infante was a decent second baseman for Detroit, including a .310 batting average in 2013. Sanchez was the ERA champion in 2013 with a 2.57 number, plus a good 2014, but he fell off after that. It isn't much, but it is still a good trade.

                     Prediction
The Tigers will be terrible again this year. Everyone will be surprised if they can make the playoffs this year.

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