The MCB staff got together and provided some storylines they would like to see in this strange, 60-game season for the Detroit Tigers.
As baseball clears the final hurdles of the agreement for shorten season, we here at Motor City Bengals know this is a unique opportunity to see some different angles for Detroit Tigers baseball. They could make the playoffs, (not a hot take, we promise) prospects seeing the majors for the first time and players that could still be moved at the trade deadline.
Myself, Jake Boes, Jon Welter, and Jon Erkkila all had some different ideas for how we want various storylines to go down. Let’s start with Jon Erkkila, who gave us some player of the year candidates for the Detroit Tigers.
Jon Erkkila: The Need For Power
It’s a unique season in all manners possible for the Detroit Tigers and the race for the Player of the Year will be unlike every other.
Let’s face it, if any Tiger gets off on a 20-game heater to start the season they’ll establish the narrative that could earn them the award at season’s end.
The Tigers were power-starved in 2019. It stands to reason if any Tiger gets off to a quick start in the home run and extra-base hit categories, that’ll be your offensive front runner. The Tigers brought in Jonathan Schoop and C.J. Cron to provide the thump. Whichever of these two players gets off to the faster start, that’s your Offensive Player of the Year in Motown. Putting the bet on Cron.
Pitcher of the Year? If Matthew Boyd cuts his homer rate in any significant way, he wins it in a runaway.
Jake Boes: The Heath of Miguel Cabrera
As we know, Miguel Cabrera was diagnosed with a chronic knee injury that has hindered his ability to play the field as well as his ability to generate power; hitting just 15 home runs over his last two seasons.
Maintaining a DH role in 2020, getting some built-in time off due to COVID-19, and avoiding the dog days of summer that usually fatigue players over the last two months of the season will ultimately play into the Tigers’ hand by hopefully having a healthier Cabrera in the batters’ box for 2020.
Jon Welter: Jordan Zimmermann’s Days in Detroit Are Short
With a short 60 game season could Jordan Zimmermann get cut after Spring Training? Due to the short season, it will be doubtful that teams will be willing to part with many young prospects for aging veteran players. Even if he starts the season off hot, Zimmermann has an ERA over 5.5 over the past four years. Over a small sample size of spring training innings and just a couple of regular-season starts he probably couldn’t do well enough to persuade teams that he would be worth trading for.
That could lead to him being cut in favor of giving the innings to someone else. Everyone will be watching for the trio of Mize, Manning, and Skubal to arrive in Detroit but there are three pitchers already on the 40 man roster that could win the last rotation spot. Michael Fulmer is recovering from Tommy John surgery and will be ready to face live batters soon, Kyle Funkhouser is 26 years old and performed well at Erie before a disastrous stint in Toledo, and if Beau Burrows is healthy he can use this season as a way to prove to the front office that he isn’t destined for the bullpen.
If you only look at Burrows stats he had a pretty bad season in 2019 but he was still young for his age and caught the injury bug, but when he was healthy he was a very productive pitcher. He might be the forgotten prospect among Detroit’s elite pitching talent but this year could be his chance to shine if he is given the chance.
That Taxi Squad Will Look Stacked
Two storylines to consider. Will we see Casey Mize and Matt Manning at some point in Detroit in the next month or so and will Spencer Torkelson and Dillon Dingler start getting some time playing in the “taxi” squad? Overall, I am looking to see the continued development of the Tigers’ outfield with Victor Reyes, JaCoby Jones, and the combo of Christin Stewart and Travis Demeritte. The reason why is there is a bunch of outfielders sitting in the system that is in this strange limbo that Detroit must make a decision on in the next six months. Demeritte in small sample size, showed some power in spring training, could walk but he struggled with strikeouts.
The entire left side of the infielder is in question for 2020. Does Niko Goodrum stay at short the entire time or does he go to the outfield to replace a struggling player? Does Willi Castro get some time at some point? Jeimer Candelario and Dawel Lugo do not inspire confidence, which could lead to perhaps an Issac Paredes appearance. It may take time before Torkelson is ready to play third base so why not see what Paredes can provide at third.
However the storylines go, it looks like the Tigers are ready to go.