The first week of Spring Training games has come and gone, so what have we learned? In their 6 games thus far this spring, the Tigers have a 3-2-1 record which means absolutely nothing. They have two wins over the Atlanta Braves and one over the Houston Astros. The Tigers dropped both of their split squad games in one day against the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees. The tie came in the third game with the Braves.
Over the 6 games the Detroit Tigers have played, 4 of the 5 starters who will be on the Opening Day roster have started with the exception of Justin Verlander who will be starting on Thursday which means he could be on track to be the Opening Day Starter. The starter who surprised out of all of these was Kyle Lobstein who pitched on Saturday against the Astros. He pitched 3 scoreless innings and only surrendered 1 baserunner on a walk. Lobstein could be used at some point this season if Drew Smyly‘s transition back to the rotation does not go as planned or if there is an injury to one of the other starters.
The Tigers’ offseason acquisitions also made their spring debuts with the club this week. Joe Nathan and Joba Chamberlain shut out the Braves in 2 innings and 2 appearances each. Chamberlain also debuted his Tommy John scar tattoo which has since become a hit. Rajai Davis dazzled fans with his speed in his debut against the Braves where he stole 2nd after being picked off then scoring on a routine single. He was picked off in Sunday’s game which could become annoying if the trend continues into the regular season. Ian Kinsler led off the first game of the Spring Season which led some to speculate he will leadoff this season. I’m on the Kinsler for leadoff bandwagon, but it will become more apparent whether manager Brad Ausmus wants Kinsler or Austin Jackson leading off as we move closer to Opening Day. Robbie Ray looked solid in his time on the mound. He will probably start the year in the minor leagues either in Toledo or Eire. Steve Lombardozzi has filled in a shortstop while Jose Iglesias has been sidelined with shin injuries and he has looked solid which is exactly what the Tigers expected when they acquired him from the Washington Nationals in the Doug Fister trade.
The Tigers have mostly avoided the injury bug. There have been some minor injuries, but nothing all that major. Iglesias has been sidelined like I mentioned with shin problems, but he should be back some time this week. Duane Below has had some elbow soreness, which shouldn’t be too much of a problem. It could be for Below if he does not make the big league club out of camp. Bruce Rondon missed a couple of days with allergy problems, but pitched effectively this week so again this is not a big deal. It’s good to see Rondon pitching well with his fastball starting around 97 after having some elbow problems at the end of last season.
Overall, we really didn’t learn much and we really didn’t expect to. As time goes on, we will learn more about this team. They still haven’t hit a home run this spring against any of the Grapefruit League teams (they hit 2 against Florida Southern: one by Daniel Fields, one by Eugenio Suarez). If that worries you, there you go, hit the panic button now. For everyone else, I think we are happy there have not been major injury problems with the team and as long as no one tanks this week or gets injured, we will all just keep riding steady until March 31 when the Tigers face the Kansas City Royals.