The Detroit Tigers are entering the fourth week of the regular season and the team already has a sub-500 record. This is despite the fact that there are some of the best baseball players in the business on the team.
Over the course of the last week, the Tigers lost five of the six games they played. The only game they won in the third week of play was a 3-2 win pitched by Jordan Zimmermann against the Kansas City Royals. The team fell apart during the three games against the Cleveland Indians.
While the Tigers are losing, three of their teammates are recovering from injuries. Cameron Maybin, James McCann, and Daniel Norris are waiting in the wings for their injuries to heal and their rehab assignments to end. When the three of them return to Detroit will they be enough to makes a difference?
Since, I can’t predict the future, I’ll guess that they will make some difference. But, the apparent problems with the team run deeper than a catcher, one pitcher, and an outfielder.
When Daniel Norris returns after his rehab stint, there is a small chance that he could replace Mike Pelfrey. Since Pelfrey is earning $16 million from the Tigers, the team will probably not DFA him (even if many of us wish they would). So, Norris might not immediately show up in the starting rotation. Shane Greene performed well in his last start and was only taken out because of a blister. Since blisters heal quickly, Greene could be back by his next scheduled start.
Could Norris take Anibal Sanchez‘s place in the rotation? Probably not. Where Pelfrey is earning $16 million for two years, Sanchez gets $16 million annually making it even less likely that Sanchez will lose his spot in the starting rotation.
So, will Norris make much of a difference? Signs point to no. The Tigers have too much money invested in the other starting pitchers to set them aside for the Vanman.
What about Cameron Maybin? He could actually assist the team more than Norris will. It is no secret that Anthony Gose has had some struggles at the plate, but he has been solid in the field. His current platoon-mate, Tyler Collins, will be the player sent down to Toledo when Maybin returns. Maybin is a solid defender at centerfield and his bat has proven to be more successful that Gose’s over the years. Maybin has a career OPS of .678, while Gose is currently sitting with an OPS of .494.
Will Maybin make a difference? Yes. He should get on base and provide more runs for the team than Gose does.
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This leaves James McCann. The 2015 Detroit Tigers Rookie of the Year will be given his spot back as the starting catcher once he returns to the team. While he has been on the DL, Jarrod Saltalamacchia has had one of his best seasons at the plate in years. Fortunately, the Tigers will not have to bench Salty or send him down to Toledo. The real platooning at catcher can begin. With McCann and Salty at the plate and behind the dish, the team will have solid catching and hitting all season. This will only benefit the team in the long run.
Will McCann make a positive difference to the team? All signs point to yes. Having two strong catchers with powerful bats is never a bad thing.
Hopefully, by the time the three missing players make their way to Detroit the other problems will work themselves out and the bats will wake up and strikes will be thrown. The season is still early, but the problems (and the record) are beginning to resemble 2015.