Detroit Tigers News

Detroit Tigers: Current Nucleus Can Win, Make Playoff Run in 2017

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Aug 31, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias (1) and center fielder JaCoby Jones (40) and right fielder J.D. Martinez (28) run to swarm Tyler Collins (not pictured) after his sacrifice fly to score Jones defeats the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Detroit won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 31, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias (1) and center fielder JaCoby Jones (40) and right fielder J.D. Martinez (28) run to swarm Tyler Collins (not pictured) after his sacrifice fly to score Jones defeats the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Detroit won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila kept most of the team’s veteran core together in the offseason. All things considered, Detroit has a chance to return to the playoffs and make a deep run.

Detroit Tigers fans could have seen a very different offseason.

Names of a number of prominent Detroit players surfaced in trade rumors. These included the likes of Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez, Justin Wilson and Jose Iglesias.

However, the only player that the Tigers ended up trading was center fielder Cameron Maybin.

The veteran outfielder was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in a trade that netted pitching prospect Victor Alcantara.

Alcantara is one of a handful of new players who could potentially contribute next seasons.

The others include left-handed reliever and Rule 5 draft pick Daniel Stumpf, center fielder Mikie Mahtook and catcher Alex Avila.

Otherwise, the majority of Detroit’s additions have come via minor league free agency.

While the likes of Omar Infante and Edward Mujica, A.J. Achter and Alex Presley could also play a role next season, the Tigers will go with a similar lineup, rotation and bullpen.

A partial or full rebuild could have conceivably helped long-term, but there’s no telling what Detroit would have received on the trade market.

What’s more, this Tigers team is poised to contend.

Detroit Tigers
Aug 19, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos (right) celebrates with teammates J.D. Martinez (28) and Ian Kinsler (3) after hitting a grand slam against the Chicago Cubs during the third inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /

Health is Key

Despite Nick Castellanos and J.D. Martinez being limited to 110 and 120 games respectively, Brad Ausmus’ team finished just 2.5 games behind Baltimore and Toronto for the final playoff spot.

The 2016 season also saw the franchise depend on Anibal Sanchez and Mike Pelfrey for a combined 48 starts, while Jordan Zimmermann made only 18.

With better health, not to mention Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd stepping in for Sanchez and Pelfrey, Detroit should improve considerably.

In the bullpen, more work from Bruce Rondon should help the bottom line—as should better ERA numbers from Shane Greene and Justin Wilson.

Greene and Wilson, two of the team’s best setup men, posted ERAs of 4.14 and 5.55 respectively. However, both pitchers logged encouraging SIERA numbers, at 3.21 and 3.02 respectively.

If the duo’s ERA numbers fall closer to their SIERA stats from last season, Detroit’s bullpen could be one of the league’s best.

Weakened Division Rivals

While the Detroit Tigers didn’t move any standout performers, some of the team’s division rivals did.

Chicago flipped Chris Sale and Adam Eaton for significant hauls of prospects, while the Royals lost Wade Davis, Jarrod Dyson, Edinson Volquez, Kendrys Morales and Luke Hochevar.

Cleveland obviously added Edwin Encarnacion in free agency. However Detroit won’t likely lose 14 of 18 games to their division rivals next season.

What’s more, Cleveland will also have to replace some free agents of their own. During the offseason, Rajai Davis, Mike Napoli, Jeff Manship and Coco Crisp all moved on.

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All told, Detroit’s win-loss should benefit greatly from weakened competition in the Central.

Anything is Possible in the Playoffs

In reality, the baseball playoffs are a crapshoot.

Unlike the NFL or the NBA where some postseason teams are significantly better than others, most of Major League Baseball’s playoff squads boast similar amounts of talent—similar enough that any team can go on a run with the right momentum.

While momentum is key in the playoffs, another prominent factor is excellent starting pitching.

The Tigers potentially have that in spades.

Justin Verlander once again established himself as an ace last season, while Michael Fulmer enjoyed a breakout season.

With a pair of aces at the top of the rotation, Detroit could make some serious noise. Should Norris continue his break out, and if Zimmermann bounces back, the Tigers will be a tough out.

Next: Tigers Offseason Winners & Losers

Add some timely hitting from the team’s stacked lineup and the Detroit Tigers have all the ingredients to make a run at the World Series trophy.

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