Hmm post schedulerer didn't work today. If there's no game thread at 12:30, please create one because that means it continues not to work.
There are five major questions that have to be answered by the Tigers before spring training ends.
1) Who will be the backup men in the outfield?
2) Which starting pitcher will be skipped early in the season due to off days?
3) What's the bullpen going to look like?
4) Who will be the starter at second base?
5) Who will be the backup in the infield?
Jim Leyland says he'll have the answer to the second question soon, and he might even provide a bit of guidance on the third question when he tells us what the fifth starter will do during the first two weeks of the season.
So I'm going to address question three: What will the bullpen look like to start the season?
There should be seven members in it, though it's possible Detroit will decide to take an extra infielder due to that fifth starter question. Here are the players, with my confidence level of being correct.
Closer: Jose Valverde (100%)
Setup: Joquin Benoit (100%)
Seventh inning: Ryan Perry (100%)
Middle relief: Robbie Weinhardt (85%)
Middle relief: Daniel Schlereth (60%)
Middle relief: Brad Thomas (85%)
Mopup: Enrique Gonzalez (25%)
Schlereth's spot appeared to be safe, but his recent four-walk appearance is reason to be a bit less confident in the pick . However at this point, I think it makes more sense than trying to add Adam Wilk or Fu-Te Ni to the 40-man roster. Some might question bringing Brad Thomas along. That's understandable, but they carried him all of last season and I don't see any indications he's pitching on a hot seat. So I think he's in the pen.
Do the Tigers really need a mopup like Gonzalez to start the year? I don't know. But if they do Gonzalez seems to fit the bill pretty well. He, too, is not on the 40-man roster. They might go with Wilk or Ni instead.
Longer shots are Brayan Villarreal and Charles Furbush, but I have to believe they'll be on-call in the minors, where they belong for now.
Of course, bullpens are fungible things. It can and will change over the course of the year. So if your favorite reliever doesn't make the team on March 31, don't worry.
How do you see things panning out?
Next up: How do you think things should pan out?
I'd probably take Ni ahead of Schlereth, and Wilk ahead of Thomas, and probably Furbush for the last spot in the bullpen.