The Question: Where does Tyler Alexander start the season for Detroit Tigers?
With two option years remaining, the Detroit Tigers’ left-handed pitcher, Tyler Alexander, comes into Spring Training with an uncertain future. The 25-year-old has the potential to be either a starter or reliever in Detroit. Or, rather than move to the bullpen, he might start the season in Toledo ready to be called up when a sixth starter is needed.
Alexander has been with the Tigers since he was drafted in the second round of the 2015 draft out of TCU. Alexander throws 91mph four-seam fastballs and sinkers along with three secondary pitches. His curve, slider, and changeup all sit in the mid-80s but have less vertical movement than average. His changeup is his best secondary pitch right now and is the only pitch that Fangraphs ranks as above average.
After early success in the minors, Alexander stumbled in 2017, his first full season at Double-A. He performed much better in Double-A in 2018 and was promoted to Triple-A.
Alexander made his Major League debut in 2019. He appeared in 13 games at the Major League level, starting eight of them. He was largely successful as a starter with an ERA of 4.54, but his stuff didn’t play up in his relief appearances causing him to struggle over a 12 inning sample.
While the signing of Iván Nova appears to have pushed Alexander into a depth role or long reliever, don’t count him out just yet. Nova gave up a league-leading 225 hits last season and his deal has incentives tied to it for games started. If he isn’t performing enough to warrant a mid-season trade, Alexander could force Nova to the pen and take the fifth starter spot, at least until Michael Fulmer returns around the All-Star break.
Alexander and Gregory Soto are the only two left-handed options available out of the pen that are currently on the 40-man roster. Because of that, they could both start the season in Detroit, but Soto, with his 96mph fastball, could have the advantage of his pure stuff playing up in shorter outings. With Soto staying in Detroit, Alexander will probably start the season in Toledo.
It is likely that Alexander will be the first called up from Triple-A, but will have to fight to keep his spot in the rotation. This will become more difficult as Fulmer returns and the Tigers’ top pitching prospects make their debuts.
There is a lot of pitching competition coming through the pipeline in the next couple of seasons and this might be Alexander’s best chance to prove to the front office that he can start in the big leagues.