The Detroit Tigers open their 2018 campaign against the Pittsburgh Pirates; a new-look team that had went through changes in the offseason.
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As a result, Clint Hurdle’s lineup appears different. They have decent pop in their bats. Josh bell is their main power threat. The first baseman will bat fourth in the lineup. He’s expected to hit 25 long balls in 2018. Seven Pirates should hit over 10 home runs. Third baseman Colin Moran will give the bottom of the lineup an interesting power boost.
While no Pirate is projected to hit .300, they have a solid lineup. Everyone will hit over the Mendoza line. Hurdle has base-stealing threats sprawled throughout the lineup.
The key question mark is Starling Marte. The star center-fielder is batting sixth, though should lead the team in stolen bases and batting. He’s had success batting first or second in the order. Hurdle obviously wants to take a risk with Adam Frazier leading off. Marte’s high strikeout number may concern Hurdle. Despite this, Marte can get on-base.
While the lineup is solid, the Pirates aren’t perfect. Their opening day starter, Nova, regressed last season; and hasn’t had the best spring. Nova went 0-2 with a 4.85 ERA in 13 innings in Bradenton. Behind him is Trevor Williams, Chad Kuhl, Jameson Taillon, and Joe Musgrove. They’re not terrible, but not scary, either. Fangraphs lists Pittsburgh as the No. 12 rotation for 2018.
Pittsburgh also has a middle-of-the-road bullpen. FanGraphs ranks them at No. 14. Felipe Rivero has been lights out for Pittsburgh in the past. He recorded 21 saves for the club last year. Michael Feliz can also dial the gas, and hit over 96 mph.
Projecting the series
If this was the opening series last year, Detroit could have won easily. Perhaps five years from now, it will be the same story.
But the Detroit Tigers are in the early stages of a rebuild. There’s going to be a few interesting years before consistent victories. The main question-mark with this series will be Jordan Zimmermann, and whether he will bounce back and look like the pitcher the Tigers signed for five-years, $110 million. Another question mark is Francisco Liriano, and how he can perform.
At least Michael Fulmer is good, though. Starting him should make for an entertaining game two.
But after a long off-season, baseball is back.