Well, we’re here. I’m writing this on Monday morning, and when we all awaken tomorrow there will be a televised Detroit Tigers baseball game against an actual professional baseball club to look forward to in the evening. It’s one of two exhibition games against the Cincinnati Reds before the season officially begins, but it will be the best baseball we have had a chance to witness in some time. We will probably be watching what will be the first iteration of the starting squad on the field, with the exception of pitching, as the now officially named Opening Day starter Matthew Boyd will most definitely be sitting these out.
Fulmer is ready
After three simulated innings at Comerica Park on Saturday morning, Michael Fulmer came away knowing (at least in his own mind) that he is ready to go. With Daniel Norris and Jordan Zimmermann currently on the shelf, Fulmer knows that he has an opportunity. It’s all up to the brass going forward, but if things progress as they might, Fulmer could be lined up to pitch against the Kansas City Royals on July 28.
Willi make it?
Infielder Willi Castro didn’t have the greatest introduction to Tigers fans in 2019. In a brief 30-game stretch, Castro did little to excite. He spent the offseason putting in work with a specially designed pancake glove, which has helped improve some of his fielding issues from last year, and between spring training and summer camp, he has been showing a little more life with the bat. The improved skills haven’t gone unnoticed, but finding playing time could be the problem. All he can do is wait and see if there is a place for him somewhere on the 2020 iteration of the big club.
What it takes
The promise of summer camp has some folks, like Anthony Fenech of The Detroit Free Press, stopping to ask what it might take for the Tigers to put together a playoff run in a 60-game 2020 season. With promising play from young outfielders and a few pitchers on the verge of breaking through, it might not seem outside the realm of possibility. General manager Al Avila has presided over a whole lot of losing in his tenure with the Tigers. Although there seems to be some promise around the corner, he remains unsatisfied.
“I’m not going to be happy until we start winning,” he said earlier this month.
The likelihood that 2020 is the season where that happens is about as slim as chances get. That said, Fenech is a fan of Spencer Turnbull, and with Fulmer returning soon and Casey Mize on the horizon, the Tigers’ rotation has potential.
On the offensive side you have offseason additions C.J. Cron, Austin Romine, Jonathan Schoop, in addition to a (hopefully) rejuvenated Miguel Cabrera. It’s far from likely, but a little bit of luck and a good run could put Detroit in an interesting position.
Do the right thing
Despite complying with all regulations while at his home in Mexico, Isaac Paredes confirmed on Saturday that he tested positive for coronavirus.
“It was hard because I wasn’t expecting it,” he said in Spanish. “I was at my house in Mexico. I was taking care of my self, observing all the protocols. It was difficult to spend many days cooped up. I thought I was never going to get through it.
Paredes has been cleared, but his late arrival to camp means he will get just a few days with the whole group before joining the satellite camp in Toledo to start the season. Under normal circumstances, Paredes was probably starting the year in Triple-A and looking at the chance for a late season call-up. Spending sometime with the big club this year is still something we might see, despite the shortened season.
Last pitch and the rise of Mize?
It would appear that we have seen the last of Jordan Zimmermann as a starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. Zimmermann was placed on the 45-day injured list with a right forearm strain, and it doesn’t take a math wizard to figure out that a timetable for his return doesn’t really put him on the path to contributing to the team in 2020. Zimmermann never really got on track with the Tigers and will likely end his tenure in Detroit like he spent a good chunk of it: injured. There’s an outside chance he gets the opportunity to pitch a few games near the end of the season, which would be something of a favor from the organization in allowing him to potentially show that he still has something left to offer heading into free agency. But, for all intents and purposes, the Jordan Zimmermann experience is over in Detroit.
As one door closes, another one opens; Zimmermann’s injury now presents Casey Mize with an opportunity. He is poised to seize it and, as our own Brandon Day correctly notes, it’s hard to argue that Mize isn’t already one of the best five starters the Tigers have to choose from.
Around the horn
Padres and Royals make a deal. Each team’s most indispensable player (spoiler: it’s Casey Mize). Blue Jays denied approval to play in Toronto. Future free agents face a tsunami of uncertainty. Sixty words on all 30 teams before the season begins. What we lose when we can’t boo the Astros on Opening Day.