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Predicting the Tigers' 25-man roster: Maybe it's Duane Below after all?

INGE! Need we say more?
INGE! Need we say more?

Now we have our fourth edition of projecting the Tigers' 25-man roster. I continue to be wishy-washy about who makes the rotation and bullpen while being steadfast about the infield and outfield. Is there any good reason for that? Probably not. Those situations may be as fluid as the pitching situations. But a guy has to draw a line somewhere, and I am not about to budge.

Starting pitchers (5)

  1. Justin Verlander (RHP)
  2. Doug Fister (RHP)
  3. Max Scherzer (RHP)
  4. Rick Porcello (RHP)
  5. Duane Below (LHP)
After one week of having Andy Oliver slotted, I have switched back to Duane Below. Oliver had the opportunity to start a game last week and put away doubts about his control -- and he failed. He walked five. Same Oliver. Meanwhile, we had Below start on the road with a split squad against the Yankees' opening-day lineup, and all he allowed was a leadoff home run and a pair of doubles. That's a good start in my book. Our final pitcher with an opportunity to make the team is LHP Drew Smyly. The main knock on Smyly is that he has just one year of professional experience. He's also not on the 40-man roster. Smyly is scheduled to start Tuesday with Oliver pitching in relief. (Tigers changed that to Oliver starting Tuesday and Smyly on Wednesday.) We may learn more then. Until that start, however, I'm not ready to write Smyly in. For now I feel most comfortable with Below.

Relief pitchers (7)
  1. Jose Valverde (RHP, closer)
  2. Joaquin Benoit (RHP, setup)
  3. Octavio Dotel (RHP, 7th)
  4. Phil Coke (LHP, 7th)
  5. Daniel Schlereth (LHP)
  6. Luis Marte (RHP)
  7. Collin Balester (RHP)
Look, I really don't know. I don't think Oliver or Smyly would end up in the spot, because they need steady innings in the minor leagues if they don't make the team as a starter. Wilk has already been sent out. I'll just throw darts at this point. But Marte has been looking good, that's for sure.

Catchers (2)
  1. Alex Avila (LHB)
  2. Gerald Laird (RHB)
These continue to be set in stone.

Infielders (6)
  1. Prince Fielder (LHB, 1st base)
  2. Jhonny Peralta (RHB, SS)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, RHB, 3rd)
  4. Ramon Santiago (S, INF)
  5. Brandon Inge (RHB, INF)
  6. Ryan Raburn (RHB, INF)
I really want to take Brandon Inge off my list. I mean, really. Before the spring training season started, Jim Leyland said Inge had to hit. He's not hitting. His batting average is under Mendoza and he has no power. By all measures, this is Danny Worth's spot. He can field three positions and he's hitting much better. But will the team do it or will they give Inge a chance to hit in the regular season before making the eventual move? Either way, I cannot see this ending on a happy note for Inge or his fans.

Outfielder (4)
  1. Brennan Boesch (LHB, RF)
  2. Austin Jackson (RHB, CF)
  3. Delmon Young (RHB, LF)
  4. Andy Dirks (LHB, OF)
I know all your arguments for Clete Thomas over Andy Dirks, but I am just not ready to make the change. Thomas is tasked mainly with bringing his glove to the park, but he may as well leave his bat home with the way he's hit during spring training. Sadly, that's not the exception, its the norm. He's out of options, but I don't know that it's a big risk of another team picking him up. And I'm not sure the Tigers would spend a lot of time sitting around wishing they'd had Thomas bad. I'll keep Dirks.

Don Kelly (1)
  1. Don Kelly (S, util)