The 2015 Detroit Tigers are the most divisive team that Dave Dombrowski has fielded in his time as General Manger in the Motor City. Heading into Opening Day, just as many people believe Yoenis Cespedes will flourish on this team, as think Alfredo Simon will flop.
Regardless, of what you believe about Dombrowski’s additions, however, for this team to truly contend, a lot of balls will have to bounce their way.
What will the Tigers get out of this controversial core? Here are five predictions.
1. Alfredo Simon Will Be An All-Star Again
The critics of Alfredo Simon outnumber the fans. Even those who support the trade have their doubts about what results the tall righty will produce. And, they have reason for skepticism. The reason I say this is two-fold.
- Prior to last year, his best year as a starter looked like this: (94.1 IP) – 4.96 ERA, 6.30 K.
- Even last year, when he did make the all-star team, his numbers after the break looked like this: (14 starts) – 4.52 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 5.87 K.
Those lines leave much to be desired. However, the potential is there for Simon to have a year that was even better than his last. Not only is he pitching in front of what projects to be a phenomenal defense, but he will be supported by an offense that was the best in the league last year, and he will be playing in one of the most pitcher friendly parks in the game.
2. Bruce Rondon Will Win Comeback Player of the Year.
Both the Tigers’ fan-base, and front office, are cautiously optimistic about Rondon. For they have both seen this storyline play out before with Joel Zumaya. But, to this point, Rondon has stayed healthy in 2015 (knock on wood), and if healthy, there is every reason to believe he could be one of the most important pieces on this team.
If a healthy Rondon can pitch for a full season, and help solidify a bullpen that has been plagued for so long by mediocrity, he would certainly be deserving of this award.
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3. Justin Verlander Will Finish In The Top Three In Cy Young Voting
There is skepticism amongst many that Justin Verlander will ever regain the form he put on display when he won the MVP. Following a disappointing season, however, Verlander seems determined to use that bulletin-board material to his advantage.
He has already taken a step in the direction, albeit in a small sample size. In his first appearance of the spring, Verlander breezed through two innings without allowing a run, and giving up just one hit, while striking out two.
With a full offseason of conditioning under his belt, expect big things for Verlander.
4. The Tigers Will Win More Games In 2015.
Despite the belief by many that this team has gotten worse, the evidence is there to suggest that they have actually gotten better. Dombrowski, has upgraded the bullpen, albeit marginally, the defense will be head and shoulders above what it was last year, and the offense speaks for itself.
Strangely, the biggest concern may be starting pitching. Like I said, a lot of balls need to bounce the right way for the Tigers, and this is most evident within the starting staff. If Verlander cannot bounce back, and Ausmus cannot get value from Simon, and Shane Greene, the Tigers could be in trouble.
If your worst problem is a rotation fronted by David Price, Verlander, and Anibal Sanchez, you have it good, though.
5. Anthony Gose Will Hit Over. 250.
In his brief tenure as a major leaguer, Gose’s achilles heel has been his bat. If he can turn that around, however, the Tigers could put up historic offensive numbers. And there is reason to believe he will.
Not only is he under the tutelage of Wally Joyner, a career .289 hitter, with over 2,000 hits, but he will likely benefit from the huge outfield in Comerica, as well as hitting in this lineup, which is so deep he could be protected by Ian Kinsler, or even Cespedes.
Not to mention, he has started 2015 on a tear. In four spring training games, Gose is batting .636 with seven hits in 11 at-bats.
Whether or not Gose, and this team succeed, is uncertain, but at the very least, they will certainly be interesting.