Mar 14, 2015; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan (36) throws a pitch during the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Entering the last week of Spring Training, the Detroit Tigers’ roster has mostly taken shape.
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The roster at the beginning of the season will not be the same roster at the end of the season. Here we will take a look at how short the leashes are for some of the Tigers’ players who could be off of the roster by the end of the season. This will be on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the shortest leash and 10 being the longest leash.
Joe Nathan: 1
Joe Nathan’s leash is obviously the shortest on the Tigers’ roster. There has been some speculation that Nathan may not bake the Opening Day roster. He should be on the roster, but if he does not perform well to start the season, Nathan will not only be out of the closer’s job, he will be out of a job period, because Nathan has said he will not work in the middle of the bullpen. Nathan has the ability to still be an effective closer in Major League Baseball, but he has to find his slider or he will be looking for a new job.
Simon is going to be an interesting player to watch this season. He has a starting spot to start the season, but he has not had a good spring. He has had a 7.02 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 5 starts and 16.2 innings. Simon did not have a good 2nd half to 2014 after his all-star first half. If Simon does not find some of his first half stuff, he could find himself out of the Tiger’s rotation and in the bullpen. That means Kyle Lobstein could find his way back with the Tigers and win himself the 5th starter’s role if he can be consistent either in the bullpen or in Toledo.
Bruce Rondon: 8
Excellence out of the gate cannot be the expectation from Rondon after he missed a full season due to Tommy John Surgery. Rondon will start the season in the back end of the bullpen. Ausmus will most likely roll with Soria in the 8th and Nathan in the 9th leaving Joba Chamberlain, Al Alburquerque, and Rondon to fight for time in the 7th. If Nathan does not work, I believe Soria would close and Rondon would move to the 8th, especially after Chamberlain’s struggles late in the season. Another name to watch to take the 8th inning role if Nathan does not work: Alfredo Simon, especially if he struggles early in the year.
Justin Verlander: 10
If there is one man who has a leash that is long, it is Justin Verlander. That is to say that most other players on the roster do not have a leash. Verlander’s leash is this long frankly because the Tigers need him. They will give Verlander every opportunity to succeed in 2015 because they have no one else to go to. Justin Verlander is not going to the bullpen, let’s clear that up now so we don’t have to play around with that at all this season. Verlander will be better this season, but he won’t be Cy Verlander like he was in years past.