Happy Monday to you, reader. Through the three-game weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays, this Detroit Tigers team demonstrated that their drive toward futility is a serious endeavor not to be trifled with. After winning the series opener, they managed to fart away the remaining two games in a manner that bludgeons promise with the hammer of ineptitude that no team wields quite like your 2019 Tigers.
There, regretfully, will be no Monday break this week as the team moves straight into a four-game series against the Houston Astros that I’m sure will be really fun.
It’s safe to say the focus of this rebuild, at the lower levels, is on pitching. With several big names already dominating and a few more moving up the rankings, the Tigers appear well positioned on the bump.
To test the accuracy of this assumption, Anthony Fenech of The Detroit Free Press checked in with some major league scouts to get a little feedback. Returns seem somewhat mixed. There is a lot of love for Tarik Skubal, as well as Casey Mize and Matt Manning, but after that the consensus seems to be that the system falls off measurably.
“As a whole,” one NL scout said, “I would probably say more middle-ish of the pack. Hard for me to go any higher than middle. Depth-wise, it’s an issue. The guys at the top – Mize, Manning – can pitch, but the problem is, there’s not like a gluttony of higher-end ceiling type arms.”
As for the timeline for arrival, we could see Manning and Mize late next year and in the majors full-time starting in 2021, but it comes with a warning that you might need to be ready to watch them work through some growing pains.
The sound of silence
One of the many ways a team looking to improve can get better throughout the course of the season is through the utilization of the waiver wire. This is a practice that some would say has been largely under utilized by the Tigers this season. Jules Posner of Forbes takes a look at Detroit’s activity (or the lack thereof) and uses it as a vehicle to speculate on the earnestness in which the organization is approaching the season and their attempts to register wins within it.
The idea, roughly broken down, shows an avoidance of guys who have major league contracts and would cost more money. The assumption here is that the team is operating as cheaply as possible regardless of some of the potential benefits. On the flip side, there is the consideration that there’s a good reason a lot of these guys showed up on the waiver wire to begin with, and that reason is that they aren’t worth putting on a roster. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
New acquisitions finding their way
As we have watched Nicholas Castellanos tear the cover off the ball in Chicago and Shane Greene pitch his way to a demotion in the Braves system, you may have been wondering how the returns for the two former Tigers are faring in their first few weeks in the system. The answer? Pretty good.
Aside from Travis Demeritte’s hot start with the big club, there are a few arms that have been acclimating themselves well in the minors. Paul Richan seems to have a strong analytical focus, and has switched over from using it to analyze starts after the fact to preparing for them as they approach.
Lefthander Joey Wentz has jumped out to a strong start in Double-A Erie, sporting a 1.80 ERA in his limited time. Alex Lange, who was converted to a relief role upon his arrival in the organization, has been helpful in Erie as well. All three of the young pitchers acquired have acclimated well to their new teams. Now we wait to see if any of them can capitalize on an opportunity to work their way up and contribute to the major league club.
Here’s a fun little piece of info shared by our friends over at Beyond the Box Score. At their current rate, this iteration of the Tigers is slated to finish as the worst squad (graded by fWAR) since the 1998 Twins and the seventh-worst in the expansion era. Buoyed by a small portion of the starting rotation, the remaining players (mostly position talent) have been less than amazing. While things are currently terrible, the not so good news is that there doesn’t seem to be much hope for the immediate future. The article finishes out with a less than encouraging statement that the top talent is still a ways off. Who’s pumped for 2020?
Around the horn
Checking in on the KBO’s de-juiced baseballs. The Robots are coming: A look at how the electronic strike zone is working in the Atlantic League ($). Chris Sale is on his way to meet Dr. Andrews. Mike Trout has tied Derek Jeter on the all-time WAR list.
Baseball is awesome
Yasiel Puig continues to be a delight in his latest homage to a kid on Venezuela’s Little League World Series team.