The season's over and it's time to start to consider what should change in 2023 to improve. As we closed out 2022 with Seattle, it was interesting to compare our teams and how different the results were. Although we typically dwell on how bad our offense was, and it was very, very, very bad, the starting pitching injuries probably are what caused the collapse of the team. Seattle used just 6 starting pitchers!
Although you can always hope that injuries will be quelled and the new year will be entirely different, I have a relatively pessimistic outlook given how little our pitchers pitched. Anyone hoping for two or three big innings eaters to emerge from this year's 17 starters better think again. It's just not going to happen. It is far more likely that none of the 17 plus Spencer Turnbull and perhaps some other rookies will pitch 100 innings, if even that much.
This article isn't meant to bemoan this fact, but rather to suggest the team realize it and plan for it now. I think the Tigers have talent, but they have to preserve it as well as develop it. Some unique approaches to building the staff and using it I think will be necessary.
Plan A - I would consider pitching tandems or even threesomes be planned from the get go. Don't count on a starting five but a starting ten, at minimum.
Plan B - I would expect that to build a big enough pitching staff we would need to condense our everyday field team. However, this will require planning ahead on call-ups and using players in a way perhaps not previously considered in the majors.
Plan C - The relief pitching and particularly the closing pitchers would not be saddled on just one person. I think this position or role has to be developed mindfully to realize that over-using young pitchers will come back to haunt the team. Giving anyone player the ball in more than 45 games is likely going to lead to an injury, so I just wouldn't do it.
Maybe it's easiest to start out with the field team's staffing:
C - Let Jake Rogers recover at AAA before being promoted back to the Tigers. Hope that Dillon Dingler will continue to develop and reach AAA by mid-year. Start the season with Eric Haase as the team's catcher for 75% of the first 60 games with a less expensive back-up player for the balance. After 60 games, hopefully Rogers can jump in and play 50% of the next 60 games. Over the final 42 games I'd hope to get Dingler into at least 12 of them.
1B - Harold Castro would be my starter for the first 80 games and hope that Spencer Torkelson rakes at AAA. After the first half I'd assess what makes the most sense.
2B - Jonathan Schoop would be my starter until the wheels came off. Some off days might be provided if Miguel Cabrera spelled Harold at first and he could play second.
3B - Ryan Kreidler and Willi Castro would be my third basemen. One or the other would serve as a sub at SS or 2B too.
SS - Javier Baez
LF - Kerry Carpenter
CF - Riley Greene
RF - Austin Meadows
OF Reserve - Akil Baddoo
DH - Miguel Cabrera
That should total 12 players.
The pitching staff would probably look like this:
Tandem 1 - Ed Rodriguez, B Garcia
Tandem 2 - Skubal, Manning
Tandem 3 - Mize, Wentz
Tandem 4 - Brieske, Norris
Tandem 5 - Turnbull, Hill
The trick will be to perhaps hold back or know who can come up to spell tired arms at mid-season. Olson, Smith, Madden, R Garcia, El Rodriguez, or others used in the bullpen would b primary candidates.