Dave Dombrowski’s offseason was built on a multitude of gambles, and at the outset, those gambles are paying off for the Detroit Tigers.
While 15 games is certainly no definitive sample of true talent, the Detroit Tigers are seeing encouraging results from a variety of players whom they need to succeed.
This is no more applicable to any player than Anthony Gose. The former Toronto Blue Jay, who the Tigers acquired by dealing top prospect Devon Travis, has, to this point, produced at a level that must even be shocking to the likes of Dombrowski himself.
In 22 at-bats this spring, Gose is hitting a sizzling .545 with three doubles, three triples, six RBIs, and four stolen bases. This 2015 team will be a far cry from base-clogging Tigers teams of years past, and if Gose can finally figure it out at the plate, he could be a focal point in the apex of that transition.
Just as encouraging for Tigers fans has been Justin Verlander’s strong start. Max Scherzer’s departure has created palpable anxiety amongst Detroit’s fan-base, but a re-emergence from their long-time ace, Verlander, would certainly help to quell that fear. And, to his credit, Verlander has given Tigers fans a lot to be happy about so far.
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While the days where Verlander was throwing 100 MPH in the 9th inning may be behind us, he can certainly still be a productive pitcher. His numbers in camp speak strongly to that sentiment. In five innings pitched, Verlander may only have three strikeouts, but he is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA, an 0.80 WHIP.
It seems trivial to judge such a small sample size, in spring training games, no less, but rest assured, if Verlander had an ERA above 4.00, the outcry would be wide, and public.
It is safe to assume that the criticism of Alfredo Simon would be similar, were he giving his many critics any room to be skeptical. Simon, who is one of the most pivotal members of this team, has also posted a 0.00 ERA, and his WHIP is even lower than Verlander’s, at 0.60.
Not everything is “coming up Milhouse” for the Tigers in spring camp, though. While the starting rotation has been strong, for the most part, the bullpen is yet again looking quite bleak.
Nine pitchers who figure to be seriously competing for bullpen roles on this team have an ERA over 4.00, and of those nine, six of them have an ERA above 6.00.
However, there has been one significant bright spot in that bullpen, and that is Bruce Rondon. Dombrowski took a large risk in not doing much to improve his bullpen, and that is in large part due to his belief in Rondon. The powerful right-hander is undoubtedly talented, but he has struggled to stay healthy. So far, in 2015, things have been different. Rondon only has one appearance but he hovered around 100 MPH, and got through it feeling completely fine, which is a relief for Tigers fans.
Don’t worry. I knocked on wood.
The bottom line is, this Tigers team need a lot of things to go their way in order to reach, or hopefully surpass past heights. Without the right breaks, their championship window could close before the trade deadline.