Now that the Tigers are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs — much less a .500 record — the team will be trying to make the most out of the remaining month as well as looking forward to next season. As the final days of August and the minor league schedule tick away, the storylines are shifting to late-season call-ups as well as retrospectives of the current season.
Willi Castro fulfills promise to his father
Tigers top shortstop prospect Willi Castro comes from a baseball family — his father Liliano played in the Tigers’ minor league system back in the 1980s, but never made it above Class A ball. As such, when Willi began his ascent through the minors, he promised his father that he would make it to the majors in honor of him. When the younger Castro got his call-up to the big show last week in Minnesota, his pledge finally came to fruition.
It took Willi six seasons and two organizations to make it, but the 22-year-old from Puerto Rico made good on his word after an impressive showing in Toledo this year at the plate, batting .301 with an OPS of .833, smacking 28 doubles, 8 triples and 11 home runs over 525 plate appearances. While his glove left a lot to be desired — he made 22 errors in 384 chances at his primary position of shortstop, many on routine plays — he earned his call-up regardless due to the potential he wields both at the plate and on the dirt.
Getting the most out of a lost season
Dan Szymborski over at FanGraphs reviews the teams from 2019 that will clearly be at home when October rolls around, including the Detroit Tigers. He gives the team credit for acquiring and playing Travis Demeritte — especially in light of the fact that Gordon Beckham has been one of their best position players this year. He also advocates for calling up some of the young pitching studs such as Casey Mize, Joey Wentz and Matt Manning to throw out of the bullpen a la Earl Weaver, but he may have missed the news that Mize has already been shutdown for the rest of the season.
Casey Mize for USA Today MiLB Player of the Year
Speaking of Casey Mize, the top pick of the 2018 amateur draft is in the running for USA Today’s Minor League Player of the Year, up against Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Gavin Lux, Chicago White Sox outfielder Luis Robert, Atlanta Braves pitcher Ian Anderson, and Tampa Bay Rays two-way player Brendan McKay. You can vote for Mize (or one of the others if you are so inclined) at the bottom of the article in the provided link.
2020 Tigers pitching staff
Despite the lost season of 2019, the Tigers actually had a fairly decent starting pitching staff, led by Matthew Boyd’s breakout and Spencer Turnbull’s surprising rookie campaign. Looking ahead to 2020, with Boyd surviving this season’s trade deadline gauntlet he figures set in the role of ace on opening day next March despite faltering down the stretch this year.
How the others file in after him is the big question. Turnbull is pretty much a sure bet barring any significant setbacks; Jordan Zimmermann, entering the final year of his lucrative contract, is also assured of a rotation spot. After them, it appears that Daniel Norris has played his way into consideration after taking a step forward in his development as a starter this season. With four slots pretty much spoken for, that leaves the last one open for competition between internal and external candidates, as well as the merry-go-round of backups in case of injuries or poor performances.
Evan Woodbery over at MLive takes a look at two different scenarios for next year, including what the bullpen may look like and a possible free agent that could be signed to bolster the rotation. While his two lists do not inspire a great deal of confidence, if one squints hard enough, they can see a serviceable pitching staff assembled for the 2020 season.
Are the 2019 Tigers as bad as 2003?
Bless You Boys’ own Zane Harding tackles a question on the minds of many Tigers fans: is this year’s team as bad as 2003? He does a great job comparing the two seasons by looking at the respective lineups, bullpens, starting pitching and overall win-loss records. His conclusion? The team that lost an American League record 119 games is very likely worse than the team on the field this year, but not by much.
Around the horn
“You’re the guy with the ball to the crotch”: The inside story behind the funniest baseball card ever made. Circle change: how to play catcher in the independent Atlantic League. The 11 hardest-throwing rotations for 2019. There is very little correlation between the number of wild pitches a pitcher throws and runs allowed.