Think Warm! Detroit Tigers announce first week Spring Training rotation

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Feb 23, 2015; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander (35) warms up during Monday mornings workout at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

So it is 25 degrees right now in Detroit and it is time to inject some warm feelings and thoughts into your frozen, Michigan winterized hearts with five words: DETROIT TIGERS BASEBALL IS BACK!

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The Tigers will actually take the field on Monday with their annual game against the Florida Southern College Mocs. Gametime temperatures will be in the mid-70’s. JUST SAYIN’!

The Grapefruit League will then begin Tuesday with a home-and-home set with the team that ousted the Tigers out of the playoffs in abrupt fashion in October, the Baltimore Orioles. The first game will be in Lakeland followed by a road trip 90 minutes southwest to Sarasota.

The Tigers will return to Lakeland and face the Atlanta Braves before hitting the road on Friday and Saturday to Port St. Lucie and Disney World to face the New York Mets and Braves respectively. Sunday, Detroit will face Houston at Joker Marchant Stadium.

This morning the Tigers announced who will be starting each game.

Tim Melville will get the start on the mound on Monday against FSC. If you’re asking “who?” you’re in good company. He is brand new to the Tigers’ organization and is in his first year of being in big-league camp. The 25-year old spent six seasons languishing in the Kansas City Royals’ system and has experienced a tough time post-Tommy John surgery, posting a 4.79 ERA since coming back in 2012. He is definitely a raw project and thus getting the start in a practice game for practice games.

Kyle Lobstein gets the honor of being the first Detroit Tigers’ pitcher of the Grapefruit League season. The 25-year-old was very solid for the Tigers when they needed him, holding down the fort in Anibal Sanchez‘s spot down the stretch last year. Though he finished 1-2 with a 4.35 ERA, the Tigers won four of the seven games he pitched, keeping them in the game. Because they finished just one-game in front of Kansas City for the AL Central crown, a slip up or two from Kyle could have cost them. Also his rather high ERA 4.35 was mainly because of allowing six runs in his final appearance.

Wednesday, Sanchez will receive his first action since last year’s infamous Game 2 of the ALDS against these same Orioles. In that game he pitched two perfect innings in just his second appearance since August 8. His removal from that game, which lead to Joba Chamberlain and Joakim Soria meltdowns, was heavily criticized.

Sanchez had an up and down 2014 season, mainly due to injuries. When he was healthy he was arguably the Tigers’ best starting pitcher, but two stints on the disabled list, including an extended one toward the end of the season, really hurt the team. With Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer gone, it is important for Anibal to stay healthy and have another successful year as he did in 2013 when he went 14-8 with a 2.57 ERA and 1.154 WHIP.

Thursday, Tigers fans will get their first look at Alfredo Simon, brought over in a trade for Eugenio Suarez and Jonathan Crawford. Simon started the season well for the Cincinnati Reds and was named an All-Star but faltered down the stretch. It was Simon’s first extended time as a starter during his career.

David Price figures to have a much better time than he did during a short window with the Tigers last year. With this being a contract year, it might be the best of Price’s career as the two sides consider engaging in the long-term deal dance. Price will start Friday against the Mets.

Justin Verlander‘s bounceback season begins Saturday. He will face live opposing batters for the first time and we can see a glimmer of whether or not J.V. has regained the “it” factor that has been the talk of Tigers’ camp.

Perhaps the most intriguing pitcher this week will be Shane Greene. The youngest rotation member, Greene came over in a three-way trade with the Diamondbacks and Yankees and had a stellar rookie season in the Bronx. He’ll throw against the Astros on Sunday.

Expect each starter to only go through two innings no matter how much success or failure befalls them. It is very early on and the pitcher counts and innings will tick up through the long Spring Training campaign and likely top out around 6-7 innings and around 100 pitches near the final week before Opening Day.

We’ll have coverage of all games, Spring Training, Regular Season and (hopefully) beyond here at Motor City Bengals. Strap in for the ride!

Next: Tigers need a chip on their shoulder

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