Sep 9, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan (36) celebrates after the game against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Detroit won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
#1: It’s the bullpen, stupid!
When you ask how far the 2015 Detroit Tigers can go, the conversation will always begin and end with the bullpen. It is a scary proposition looking at it currently. I mean this is the unit that perhaps cost the team a World Championship in 2013 and contributed to an abrupt end to the last postseason.
But there is some hope that the unit will be better. Rondon will be back and figures to be a seventh-inning set-up man. I think a properly used Joakim Soria will be better than the little used Joakim Soria of 2014 and is an upgrade at set-up over Joba Chamberlain. Alex Wilson, obtained in the Cepedes for Rick Porcello deal, will become a more reliable middle relief option than any Tiger was last year and Joel Hanrahan figures to finally be back healthy from Tommy John surgery and his track record says he will be an asset.
Of course, this could all go to Hell quickly if Rondon looks more like early 2013 Rondon rather than late 2013 Rondon, Hanrahan can’t come back, Wilson is a bust, Soria struggles and everyone’s favorite closer Joe Nathan has another terrible season.
With this top storyline, and really all the storylines, one thing is clear. If it could have gone wrong for the Tigers in 2014, it did. From injuries to inconsistency to off years–it all hit the Tigers at the wrong time. Despite all that the team was able to make the postseason for a fourth straight year.
The Detroit Tigers are a talented team and are due for some breaks after a hard luck 2014. We present these storylines because if all five go in the club’s favor, they could finally capture that elusive World Series. But if all five go bad, it could be a third place finish in the AL Central or worse.
Only time will tell.
95 days until Opening Day–not that we’re counting or anything.