The Detroit Tigers were in it through September, but came up short, missing the postseason for the second consecutive season last year.
While the team opened the offseason with talks of selling off a number of assets, they more or less kept the gang together and are making one more push though things won’t be the same in Detroit with the passing of team owner Mike Ilitch. The Tigers are one of few teams in the AL Central positioned to go for it in 2017 and they could benefit from weaker competition from Chicago, Minnesota and even potentially Kansas City.
2016 Record: 86-75
2016 Moneyline Record: +10.87 Units
2016 Over/Under Total Record: 80-73-8
Current World Series Odds: +3558
Current Odds To Win AL: +1720
Current Odds To Win AL Central: +550
Regular Season Win Total: 82.5
Early in the offseason, Tigers GM Al Avila traded away centerfielder Cameron Maybin to the Angels in a money saving move. That was supposed to be just the first domino to fall, but ended up being the biggest move of the offseason.
Outside of the Maybin deal, the biggest acquisitions of the offseason were Alex Avila, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Mikie Mahtook and Daniel Stumpf. For those keeping score at home, that’s two back-up catcher candidates, a candidate to fill the hole left by Maybin and a Rule-5 draft pick.
Sure, Avila could provide some needed leadership behind the plate and his return to Detroit could serve to help some of the pitchers that’ve struggled the last year or two, but it’s hard to get excited about such minor changes, particularly for a team that was on the outside looking in a year ago.
For the Tigers to have a better season and capture a spot in the postseason, they’ll need Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer to repeat their strong 2016 performances and hope that Anibal Sanchez and Jordan Zimmermann can return to form. Zimmermann was a top line starter as recently as 2015 while Sanchez was the ERA leader in the AL for the Tigers in 2013 and followed up with a strong 2014 before a couple down years.
If those two continue to struggle—or, in Zimmermann’s case remain injured—than that adds pressure on some of the younger arms like Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd, though Norris in particularly pitched very well in limited action last year, going 4-2 with a 3.38 ERA in 14 games, including 13 starts.
Given the names, the rotation does have quite a bit of upside despite the questions and should be a strong point for this team. The offense should also be good, again, even with the downgrade from Maybin in center.
This is still a team with one of the better second basemen in Ian Kinsler, the best right-handed hitter of our generation in Miguel Cabrera, a DH that just doesn’t strike out in Victor Martinez and a couple corner outfielders with thump in Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez.
Upton was a disappointment of epic proportions for the vast majority of 2016, but had a monster September and ended up with, more or less, the same number he always puts up. He’s one of the streakiest hitters in baseball. He’ll produce his numbers, but will it come when the team needs him most?
Fortunately, there’s enough depth to be able to sustain the hot and cold bat of Upton. In addition to those already mentioned, Nick Castellanos broke out last year as a good offensive player, too; at least when he was on the field. One through six in this order will be very good, but the bottom third could struggle. With centerfield a question now, too, that position combines with James McCann and Jose Iglesias as likely strong defensive positions up the middle, but major uncertainties at the plate.
So, the bottom of the order is a concern, but where this team can really go off the tracks is in the bullpen.
Detroit has long had trouble closing out games. They fixed that with the acquisition of Francisco Rodriguez, but getting to the closer was a real struggle in 2016. Guys like Justin Wilson and Mark Lowe were brought in and bombed. Now, the team will hope that Bruce Rondon is finally ready to be a key piece late and others can have better seasons, but no significant additions were made to help beef up the back of the pen.
April 3-6: at White Sox
April 7-10: vs. Red Sox
April 11-13: vs. Twins
April 14-16: at Indians
April 18-20: at Rays
April 21-23: at Twins
April 25-27: vs. Mariners
April 28-30: vs. White Sox
The Tigers open up the series in Chicago against a White Sox team they owned last year and should have good success against again in 2017 given the Sox are now in full rebuild mode. The two teams are still division rivals and both have long histories so there’s plenty of motivation on both sides of the field which should still lead to a fun series.
The real test for Detroit won’t come until the middle of the month: their first head-to-head series against the Indians. Cleveland was single-handedly responsible for the Tigers missing the playoffs last year as the Indians won the season series 14-4. Detroit needs to get that a bit more even. That alone can get them up to 90-wins and into October baseball.
View this years MLB game match-ups with the complete seasonal schedule for all MLB teams. Each year we will be updating the season schedule with the current information including final scores, so bookmark this page.
The 2017 Major League Baseball season is tentatively set to begin on April 2, 2017, and feature three games, including the 2016 World Series champions Chicago Cubs facing off against the St. Louis Cardinals, which will be ESPN's first Sunday Night Baseball game of the year.
The 88th MLB All-Star Game will be hosted by the Miami Marlins and will be played at Marlins Park on July 11, 2017. It will be televised nationally on Fox.
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