Justin Upton, Jordan Zimmerman, Francisco Rodriguez
Rajai Davis, Alex Avila
The Tigers clearly wanted to change their fate of a last place finish last year and made some significant changes to ensure that. All three should be seen as major upgrades across the board for Detroit. In Upton you are adding a veteran with power and speed to the middle of the lineup. In Zimmerman you are adding a guy who can be a 2-3 guy in your rotation and has playoff experience, and in K-Rod you have one of the most notable closers in recent history. When you add all of that to the fact that little was lost in the off-season you have to feel good about the Tigers setting things straight this year.
Projected Playoff Lineup
- Ian Kinsler
- Justin Upton
- Miguel Cabrera
- Victor Martinez
- JD Martinez
- Nick Castellanos
- James McCann
- Jose Iglesias
- Anthony Gose
The Tigers knew they had to move quick to strike again this year due to the ages of Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Kinsler. Martinez is now 37 and Kinsler and Cabrera are 33 years old. Cabrera is coming off of a year in which he missed a career high 43 games, and Martinez missed 42 last year. If those two are out of the lineup for a similar stretch this year they could end up in the same predicament as last year and may finally see their window is closing fast. If not, you are still looking at two of the better pure hitters in the game, Cabrera especially. He saw a dip in power last year, but still hit .338 which proves he could certainly bounce back. JD Martinez was essentially the Tigers best hitter given the circumstances, and took advantage hitting 38 home runs. He is in the heart of his prime and if the lineup with his play and the addition Upton can be compounded into a threat around the aging stars this team will have one of the scarier offenses. The bottom of the lineup doesn’t feature strong hitting, but it does feature strong defense, which will be needed given that most of their hitters are below average defenders.
Almost more so than his CY Young type seasons, the Tigers need Verlander more than ever to remain competitive. The Tigers have always had a Scherzer, or a Price and even Sanchez at times gave them the feel that it never would come down on Verlander’s shoulders. This year it really comes down on his shoulders. Zimmerman is a nice addition, but is a guy that usually is good to go deep into games, give up 2 or 3 earned runs without many Ks and hope that he got the job done. That is efficient to have, especially in your second pitcher, but they need a guy who can deliver every time around in the rotation. Verlander hasn’t been extremely healthy in the past two years and only put in 20 starts last season. However, in his last 14 starts following injury he posted a 2.27 ERA and it looked as legitimate as it could. If he can get back to those last 14 starts it would be a major boost for the Tigers because Sanchez is now 32 and coming off his worst year by far, and the back end currently doesn’t feature much upside. Daniel Norris is still involved and may end the season in the rotation as a former prospect, but is currently injured. Overall the thought is that the pitching will need someone to take a step forward if they want to be considered seriously this year.
The Tigers last year had one of the worst bullpens in the league. They added Rodriguez which could be looked at as a big upgrade, but at the same time one guy isn’t going to change the pen as a whole. They should be able to hold onto a few more leads, but this still is a pen that will need some work moving forward.
The time is now or never for the Tigers to strike. Unfortunately it just doesn’t seem like they have the firepower to strike this year. They could get big impacts from former trusted vets and that would put them right in the contention for the playoffs. However, they don’t have a strong blend of youth and experience, and their pitching seems like it may kill them as the year goes on.
3rd in the AL Central