With Opening Day only a day away (except for the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers who play today), fans all over the country are ready to see real baseball that actually counts. I know that I am. This is the beautiful time of the year where all 30 teams have the mindset that they can win it all, even if that sounds ridiculous. As for the Detroit Tigers, the sky is the limit.
Last year, the Tigers won the American League Central for the second consecutive year. Coming into the year, the Tigers were on cloud nine coming off of the signing of Prince Fielder and they were the odds on favorite to win it all. As we all know, Detroit made it to the playoffs even after struggling to win the division and went on to win the American League Pennant. Although they got swept in the World Series, the Tigers are in good position to return in 2013.
As we all know, the lineup is so deep with Miguel Cabrera and Fielder holding down the middle of it. In 2012, the emergence of Austin Jackson helped spark the top of the lineup. He cut down his strikeouts by 47 and hit .300 for the first time in his short career after hitting just .249 the previous year. As he improves as a leadoff hitter and tries to steal more, he will be a huge part of the Tigers success in 2013.
Right behind Cabrera and Fielder, Detroit will have their RBI machine back in the lineup after missing all of last year with a torn ACL. Victor Martinez was a staple in the Tigers’ lineup in 2011 where he hit .330 and knocked in 103 in his first season in Detroit. Now he’s 34-years-old and coming off a serious knee injury so who knows what kind of player he will be over a full season? In the limited time in Spring Training, he hit well and looked like his old self. He will be someone to keep an eye on all year long.
As a whole, the batting lineup should score a lot of runs, but as many fans can attest, that’s not always how it goes. With great starting pitching like the Tigers have, they should be able to win some close games as well. Their starting pitching is one of the best in all of baseball with Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer leading the charge.
The question mark in the rotation at least so far has been Doug Fister. In Spring Training, he struggled, to say the least, giving up 25 hits in 19.1 innings of work and allowing 14 earned runs. Going 2-3 with an ERA of 6.52 this spring has at least put people on edge. Now you can’t put that much stock in Spring Training stats, but these are odd enough to raise some concerns. Although, he will probably be fine.
As for the bullpen, the Tigers thought that Bruce Rondon would be their Opening Day closer, but that didn’t quite work out the way they wanted. As of now, Detroit will go with a closer by committee, most likely relying heavily on either Joaquin Benoit or Phil Coke to handle most of the late inning work. Along with the usual’s Drew Smyly will be in the bullpen to serve as a long reliever when a starter gets hurt or touched up by opposing hitting.
The bullpen will no doubt be the weakest part of the club in 2013, but all-in-all that shouldn’t be a problem that prevents them from accomplishing their ultimate goal, which is to win the World Series. Detroit should be one of the best teams in all of Major League Baseball in 2013, and are one of the favorites to win it all. As a Tigers fan, you have a lot to be excited about. It should be an interesting season to say the least.