Pitching is paramount
It’s not much of a hot take, it’s the truth: the Detroit Tigers’ season hinges on its pitching. With the majority of the same team from 2016 back this year, we know what to expect offensively. But injuries and inconsistencies last season led to uneven pitching performances outside of Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer. Injuries, specifically to Jordan Zimmermann, cost the team dearly in 2016. They are infuriating in both how little control the team has on them and how important they can be.
Youth defines this year’s starting pitching, with Daniel Norris, Mathew Boyd, Michael Fulmer and possibly Drew VerHagen (!). How Fulmer adjusts in year two and the other young guys deal with adversity will dictate a lot for 2017.
Last but not least, the bullpen, every Tigers fan’s favorite subject. Lynn Henning of the Detroit News labels them as the best collection that the team has had in recent years, but that’s not really much of a compliment.
Francisco Rodriguez saved 44 games in 2016. Bruce Rondon turned the corner and became a reliable set-up man. Alex Wilson is annually solid. Justin Wilson has worked mightily on an off-speed pitch. Shane Greene probably has the best pure arm next to Rondon in the bullpen’s back end. Blaine Hardy has shown he can be trusted. And then there’s the kid, Joe Jiminez, who is getting very close to Comerica Park and could pitch his way onto the team during spring camp.
Hmm, I don’t see Mark Lowe mentioned.
The bullpen always plays a pivotal role in the Tigers’ season. This year will be no different. With the pitching staff taking shape over the next couple weeks, it’s worth following performances and news closely. As goes the Tigers pitching, so goes the Tigers season.
Rest in Peace, Mr. I
I don’t have anything new or original to add, but for some reason I am still employed so I am going to add my two cents. Thank you, Mr. Ilitch. You had a profound impact on the city and all of our lives. Your incredible work will be remembered forever.
.@JustinVerlander remembers Mr. I with media before workouts today. pic.twitter.com/8bk7ZsndE4— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) February 14, 2017
Meanwhile, #Tigers Daniel Norris making a strong push for a shampoo endorsement deal. #FlowByDaniel (Photo credit: Tom Hagerty) pic.twitter.com/zAjOurWYok— Emily Waldon (@emilywaldon2080) February 14, 2017
The beard might be gone, but it appears to have gone directly to Daniel Norris’ head. Also, kudos to him for almost making that hat look good. Follow Emily Waldon for more terrific spring training tidbits and beyond.
That makes more sense
We’ve already discussed Jim Bowden’s nonsensical off season grades at length, so I won’t revisit them. The Sporting News offered a much more correct grade, a C.
With minimal moves made this offseason, aside from trading outfielder Cameron Maybin to the Angels, the Tigers are saying they can compete with this group. However, we've already seen that isn't the case. Even so, the Tigers should be looking optimistic in 2017, even after a quiet offseason.
That’s more in line with what happened. The Tigers’ offseason was a bit perplexing, and they could have done more, but it was ultimately understandable.
The secret to Clayton Kershaw’s success revealed
Another offseason down... have to thank my trainer once again for her incredible work! pic.twitter.com/LgCfWvBx10— Clayton Kershaw (@ClaytonKersh22) February 14, 2017
If you are in need of an NL team
May I suggest the Atlanta Braves? At one point the worst offense team in history, the Braves finished the season in a flurry powering optimism into 2017.
With the addition of Brandon Phillips, they now stand as one of the more intriguing teams in the league. Notice I didn’t say “good,” because there are still plenty of questions, especially with their starters and bullpen. But they are definitely interesting. Heck, they even have Ron Washington.
For your free time
Ben Revere is your least intimidating hitter in baseball. The most underrated? That would be A.J. Pollock. Well, unless you play fantasy baseball, then you know. Alex Reyes will undergo Tommy John surgery. My Cardinals hate is well documented, but that’s terrible. Ron Gardenhire has been diagnosed with cancer because everything continues to suck.
Baseball is awesome.
A Guide on "Where You Can Touch Your Friends (geographically) ..." #EnhancedGIF” pic.twitter.com/cwgmAqiCz2— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) February 14, 2017