The Detroit Tigers were a fringe team headed into 2016. They showed an interested in selling off pieces heading into 2017, but ultimately went to war with a team very similar to the one that competed, but came up short in 2016. The 2107 season, however, yielded very different results.
The Tigers team got old, fast. Miguel Cabrera wasn’t the same. Injuries destroyed the squad and the pitching all but disappeared.
Now, in the post-Mike Ilitch era, the Tigers are forced to cut back. After spending years spending beyond their means, Detroit is cutting payroll and trimming down. J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and more are gone. While there are still some hefty contracts on the books, this is certainly a squad in transition.
2017 Record: 64-98
2017 Moneyline Record: -31.28 Units
2017 Over/Under Total Record: 87-68-7
Current World Series Odds: +32500
Current Odds To Win AL: +16500
Current Odds To Win AL Central: +4500
Regular Season Win Total: 67.5
While there were some mixed signals early last season, the Tigers have left no doubt to their direction given their midseason selloffs and their roster construction headed into 2018.
Offensively and defensively, the Tigers slumped, but the biggest reason Detroit lost an AL worst 98-games in 2017 was a pitching staff that sported a baseball worst 5.36 team ERA.
Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer were the only two reliable starters for the Tigers most of the year and Verlander had a slow start to the year and finished the final month of the regular season in an Astros uniform. He’s gone in 2018, leaving Fulmer—who himself is recovering from ulnar transposition surgery—as the lone reliable starter. This pitching staff could be even worse than last year.
Beyond Fulmer, the rest of the rotation will be some combination of Jordan Zimmermann, Matthew Boyd, Daniel Norris, Francisco Liriano and Mike Fiers.
The latter two of the above list were brought in this offseason. Fiers was nontendered by the Astros after a -0.6 rWAR season and 5.22 ERA in 29 games. His walk and home run rates both jumped in his age 32 season. As for Liriano, he was regulated to the bullpen in the second half of 2017. He could be a useful relief arm at this stage of his career, but he hasn’t been a useful starter in a couple years.
The same can be said about Zimmermann. The right-hander hasn’t been the same since coming to Detroit and things got worse for him in 2017. He started 29 games for Detroit out of necessity, but was 8-13 with a 6.08 ERA and 1.550 WHIP in 160 innings.
While Boyd and Norris each provide some level of upside. Both have had many chances and neither has established himself with both pitching to low-to-mid 5 ERAs in 2017.
The starting rotation is a huge question after Fulmer, but the bullpen provides little relief. Even with the Tigers were good, the bullpen was the team’s Achilles’ Heel. Now that that team is bad, the bullpen is just as bad.
Shane Greene was good in relief last year and took over the closer’s role after Justin Wilson was dealt to the Cubs. He pitched to a 2.66 ERA, but his FIP was over a run higher and he walked 4.5 per nine innings. He’s good at inducing weak contact and had a strong strikeout rate, but he can be wild which is a not a particularly strong attribute for a closer. Still, he’s the best the team’s got. Beyond him, it’s all hopes and prayers.
At the plate, the Tigers will hope that Miguel Cabrera can bounce back after his worst season of his career. Even if Miggy returns to MVP form, it won’t be enough to make much of a dent in the team’s record, but it will bring in fans, intrigue and could make him a trade chip—though Detroit would have to eat a bunch of the money in any case.
Still, a bounce back would be good news after he has a 92 OPS+, hitting only .249 and 16 homers. Cabrera is one of the best right-handed hitters of the era and a former Triple Crown winner. He’s capable of coming back in his age 35 season, but he’s got a lot of wear and tear on his body, too. This could be the beginning of the end.
Speaking of ends, we’re about there on Victor Martinez, too. The DH was a great example of a good contact hitter with a strong OBP and solid power. Now, he’s another below average bat taking up space on a roster.
Beyond the aging contracts in the middle of the lineup—and Leonys Martin slated for centerfield—the rest of the starting nine are all under-30.
Mikie Mahtook finally gets a full season. Jeimer Candelario likely has the most upside of the bunch while Nick Castellanos may be the best player on the roster—for better or worse—now that Cabrera is in decline.In short, this is not a good team. The offense is old in some places, young in others and filled with has-beens and never-weres. The pitching staff is simply Michael Fulmer and pray for rain. This Tigers’ team has a long road to get back to respectability. They’re essentially the Philadelphia Phillies of a few years ago.
|Baltimore Orioles||Baltimore, Maryland||Oriole Park at Camden Yards|
|Boston Red Sox||Boston, Massachusetts||Fenway Park|
|New York Yankees||New York City, New York||Yankee Stadium|
|Tampa Bay Rays||St. Petersburg, Florida||Tropicana Field|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Toronto, Ontario||Rogers Centre|
|CENTRAL||Chicago White Sox||Chicago, Illinois||Guaranteed Rate Field|
|Cleveland Indians||Cleveland, Ohio||Progressive Field|
|Detroit Tigers||Detroit, Michigan||Comerica Park|
|Kansas City Royals||Kansas City, Missouri||Kauffman Stadium|
|Minnesota Twins||Minneapolis, Minnesota||Target Field|
|WEST||Houston Astros||Houston, Texas||Minute Maid Park|
|Los Angeles Angels||Anaheim, California||Angel Stadium|
|Oakland Athletics||Oakland, California||Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum|
|Seattle Mariners||Seattle, Washington||Safeco Field|
|Texas Rangers||Arlington, Texas||Globe Life Park in Arlington|
|EAST||Atlanta Braves||Atlanta, Georgia||SunTrust Park|
|Miami Marlins||Miami, Florida||Marlins Park|
|New York Mets||New York City, New York||Citi Field|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Citizens Bank Park|
|Washington Nationals||Washington, D.C.||Nationals Park|
|CENTRAL||Chicago Cubs||Chicago, Illinois||Wrigley Field|
|Cincinnati Reds||Cincinnati, Ohio||Great American Ball Park|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Milwaukee, Wisconsin||Miller Park|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||PNC Park|
|St. Louis Cardinals||St. Louis, Missouri||Busch Stadium|
|WEST||Arizona Diamondbacks||Phoenix, Arizona||Chase Field|
|Colorado Rockies||Denver, Colorado||Coors Field|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Los Angeles, California||Dodger Stadium|
|San Diego Padres||San Diego, California||Petco Park|
|San Francisco Giants||San Francisco, California||AT&T Park|
March 29-April 1: vs Pittsburgh Pirates
April 2-4: vs Kansas City Royals
April 5-8: at Chicago White Sox
April 9-12: at Cleveland Indians
April 13-15: vs New York Yankees
April 17-19: vs Baltimore Orioles
April 20-22: vs Kansas City Royals
April 24-26: at Pittsburgh Pirates
April 27-29: at Baltimore Orioles
April 30-May 2: vs Tampa Bay Rays
There are always a couple teams that open the season in interleague play. This year, the Tigers are one of those teams.
Typically looking to pin potential contenders against each other to open the year, the rebuilding clubs are the forgotten ones and this year, the Tigers and Pirates will meet in Detroit to start their respective seasons. From there, Detroit goes on an AL Central tour with back-to-back-to-back series against the Royals, White Sox and Indians. The only AL Central club the Tigers won’t meet in April is the Twins.
Following the AL Central tour, the Tigers return home for a three series homestand against the Yankees, Orioles and Royals. This will be the longest homestand of the year when the air in Detroit remains brisk.One of the more favorable matchups of the month may be the Orioles. Baltimore was one of three teams that the Tigers had an over-.500 record against in 2017.
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