Daniel Norris is ready to put health scare behind him and get back to business with the Detroit Tigers.
Daniel Norris had himself an eventful 2015, but a lot of that had nothing to do with baseball.
Norris announced to fans in October that he had thyroid cancer, leaving everybody to question whether a young man with such a promising future would ever be able to realize his dream of being a successful Major League pitcher. Well, fans didn’t have to fret for long, as Norris announced less than two weeks later that he underwent successful surgery and was now cancer free.
Back to Baseball…
In addition to his off-the-field battle, Norris also had himself a busy 2015 on the field. As the top prospect in the Blue Jays organization, Norris was given chances to show his value in spot-start duty. The Tigers liked what the saw and acquired the 22-year-old southpaw in the David Price deal.
Norris immediately became the franchise’s hope for a better future with uncertainty surrounding its aging roster.
The 22-year-old dazzled in his debut, giving up just one run on four hits in Baltimore. An oblique strain suffered during a game in Chicago against the Cubs in which Norris hit a home run in his first career at-bat sidelined for the young starter for about a month.
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Norris returned to make five more starts before the season ended, but the Tigers didn’t stretch him out. Between Toronto and Detroit, Norris was solid in his 13 starts in 2015, posting a 3.75 ERA.
Projecting the 2016 Season
As an avid viewer of Tigers games but not someone on the front lines during spring training, this is tough.
Norris definitely has the stuff to become the Tigers fourth starter. His fastball sits anywhere from 92-95 and has the kind of late life that drives hitters nuts. If he can throw it for strikes, hit devastating slider becomes that much more dangerous.
The Tigers are going to have to throw the youngster to the wolves right away, which means he’s going to have some good days and some not-so-good days. The team will probably need a double-digit win season from Norris to compete in 2016, but if he keeps his ERA below 3.50, that should excite everybody.
The Detroit Tigers talk big about how Mike Pelfrey is penciled into that fourth spot and how there are all these young guys battling it out to be the last starter, but Pelfrey is not someone who’s going to win the Tigers a lot of games. Norris needs to be that guy behind Justin Verlander, Jordan Zimmermann and Anibal Sanchez. How Norris responds could go a long way in determining whether or not the Tigers are playing meaningful baseball in September.