Friday, March 6, 2020

Detroit Tigers 2020 Season Preview



         Nothing went right for the Tigers in 2020. While everyone thought the Orioles would finish last in the MLB, the Tigers proved everybody wrong, going 47-114. They will have the first overall pick in June. The lineup is terrible, and the rotation is even worse. They missed their chance to trade away Matthew Boyd at the deadline, costing them valuable assets. It will be another rough season for the Tigers.

         Offseason additions: 1B CJ Cron, 2B Jonathan Schoop, C Austin Romine, RHP Ivan Nova, OF Cameron Maybin, RHP Zack Godley, OF Jorge Bonifacio, LHP Hector Santiago.

         Offseason subtractions: UT Brandon Dixon, UT Ronny Rodriguez, C John Hicks, LHP Daniel Stumpf, IF Gordon Beckham, IF Josh Harrison, LHP Matt Moore.

         Rotation
Matthew Boyd emerged as one of baseball's top strikeout starters. He has three more years left under contract, He struck out 238 batters in 185.1 innings. However, he allowed a league leading 39 home runs, and 94 earned runs in total, for a 4.56 ERA. Spencer Turnbull had an ERA under 3.00 in June. Injuries and poor play hurt that as the year went on. He went 3-17, leading the league in the latter category. He had a 4.61 ERA in 148.1 innings. He also hit a league leading 16 batters. Veteran starter Ivan Nova had one of his worst seasons for the White Sox last year. He allowed 225 hits, a league high. He had a 4.72 ERA with just 114 strikeouts in 187 innings for a 5.5 K/9, which was not the lowest of his career. Expensive veteran Jordan Zimmermann has been terrible in all four of his seasons in Detroit. He had a 6.91 ERA in 23 starts last year. In his Tigers career Zimmermann has a 5.61 ERA and 6.4 K/9 in 508.2 innings. Daniel Norris is always injured. He is still only 26, and the lefty had a 4.49 ERA in 144.1 innings last year. It was the most he's pitched in an MLB season, in his sixth year overall.

            Bullpen
There are not many guaranteed spots in the Tigers bullpen. After Shane Greene was traded at the deadline, Joe Jimenez stepped in. A 2018 all-star, Jimenez converted nine saves with a 4.37 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 59.2 innings. Former starter Buck Farmer had a productive season as a reliever. He pitched in 73 games, striking out 73 in 67.2 innings with a 3.72 ERA. Nick Ramirez is in camp as a non-roster invitee, but he was a vital part of the bullpen last year. Ramirez pitched in 79.2 innings over 46 games as a 29 year old rookie last year. He struck out 74 and had a 4.07 ERA. Swingman Gregory Soto played in 33 games (seven starts), with a 5.77 ERA and 7 K/9. Him being a lefty helps his case for the roster. He was one of seven AL pitchers to commit three errors. Jose Cisnero played for the Astros from 2013-2014, and made his return to the MLB in 2019, with a 4.33 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 35.1 innings. Alex Wilson is back as a non-roster player. he had a 3.36 ERA for the Tigers in 2018. In his one year in Milwaukee Wilson had a 9.53 ERA in 11.1 innings. The Tigers used the first overall pick in the Rule-5 draft on Rony Garcia. He had a 4.01 ERA with 129 strikeouts in 130.1 innings for High-A Tampa and AA Trenton (Yankees system). The last spot is between Tyler Alexander and Zack Godley. Both are the starter/reliever type. Alexander is a lefty, while Godley has more experience. Alexander had a 4.86 ERA in 53.2 innings. Godley had a 6.39 ERA for the D-Backs last year, but joined the Blue Jays late last year. He had a 3.94 ERA in 16 innings for Toronto. He had a 3.37 ERA with 165 strikeouts in 155 innings in 2017.

               Catchers
The Tigers signed Austin Romine to a one year deal so he will finally get his chance to be a starting catcher. He had a career high .281 average and .748 OPS for the Yankees last year. With John Hicks gone, the catching depth is not as good as it used to be. Jake Rogers is an elite defender but hit .125 in 35 games last year. Grayson Greiner played in 58 games last year, with a .202 average and .559 OPS. He may be the backup to start as Rogers gets more playing time in the minors.

               Infielders
Miguel Cabrera will be a Hall of Famer and the Tigers will eventually retire his number 24. The two time MVP and Triple Crown winner had a .937 OPS and .315 average in 1680 games for the team. Unfortunately, that is on the decline. Cabrera had a respectable .282 average last year, but he hit just 12 home runs in 136 games, and his .744 OPS was the second lowest of his career. The Tigers signed a pair of veterans from the Twins in CJ Cron and Jonathan Schoop. Cron and Cabrera will alternate at first base and DH. Cron hit 25 home runs with a career high 78 RBIs last year. He hit .253 with a .780 OPS. His OPS+ was barely above average, at 103. Schoop, a former 32 home run hitter, hit 23 bombs last year, with a .256 average and .777 OPS. Schoop and Cron are very welcome additions who have played in the division before. The rest of the infield is where things get tricky. Jordy Mercer hit .270 with a .747 OPS last year, but he may not make the team. Utility man Niko Goodrum is trying to settle on one position, and that may be at short. Goodrum hit 12 home runs and stole 12 bases with a .743 OPS last year. The third base job is between Jeimer Candelario and Dawel Lugo, who are both out of options. Candelario hit 19 home runs in 2018, but hit just eight last season, with a .203 average and .643 OPS. Lugo hit six home runs with a .652 OPS last year. Harold Castro seems to be a lock as a utility infielder. He hit .291 with five homers and six stolen bases in 97 games, but he had a .689 OPS.

               Outfielders
If Mercer makes the team, the Tigers can only carry four outfielders. They brought back Cameron Maybin on a one year deal. The journeyman is entering his third stint as a Tiger. He hit a career high 11 home runs with nine stolen bases, a .285 average and .858 OPS in 82 games for the Yankees last year. In 88 games JaCoby Jones also hit 11 home runs, with seven stolen bases and a .740 OPS last year. Victor Reyes had a solid season. The 25-year-old played in 69 games, hitting three home runs with nine stolen bases, plus a .304 average. Former first rounder Christin Stewart hit 10 home runs last year, but still had a .693 OPS. Travis Demeritte was acquired for Shane Greene at the deadline. He started off his Tigers career strong, with a .291 average and .822 OPS 22 games in. He struggled the rest of the way, with three home runs, three stolen bases and a .225 average plus a .630 OPS. He played in 48 total games. He has four hits in 13 Spring Training at-bats so far, all home runs.

                Projected Opening Day Lineup
RF Cameron Maybin (R)
2B Jonathan Schoop (R)
DH Miguel Cabrera (R)
1B CJ Cron (R)
SS Niko Goodrum (S)
C Austin Romine (R)
LF Victor Reyes (S)
CF JaCoby Jones (R)
3B Jeimer Candelario (S)

                 Projected Rotation
Matthew Boyd (L)
Spencer Turnbull (R)
Daniel Norris (L)
Ivan Nova (R)
Jordan Zimmermann (R)

                  Projected Bullpen
Joe Jimenez, closer (R)
Buck Farmer (R)
Alex Wilson (R)
Gregory Soto (L)
Jose Cisnero (R)
Nick Ramirez (L)
Zack Godley (R)
Rony Garcia (R)

                   Projected Bench
C Grayson Greiner (R)
SS Jordy Mercer (R)
UT Harold Castro (L)
OF Travis Demeritte (R)

                   Prediction
The Tigers are really bad. This isn't Major League, where really bad teams can easily become good teams. The Tigers will once again finish 5th in the AL Central, missing the playoffs by 30+ games. 

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