Detroit Tigers News

Detroit Tigers: Five Key Spring Training Battles

Detroit Tigers baseball fans watch their spring training game against the Atlanta Braves at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium last March.031220 Ep Tigers 1 News
Detroit Tigers baseball fans watch their spring training game against the Atlanta Braves at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium last March.031220 Ep Tigers 1 News /
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Spring Training Battle: Starting Rotation

spring training
DETROIT, MI – Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris pose for a photo prior to Opening Day. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers head into spring training with a lot of pitchers and not a lot of solidified jobs. At this point it’s probably only safe to pencil two arms into the rotation: Matthew Boyd and Spencer Turnbull. After the signing of Julio Teheran last week there are no fewer than eight arms competing for the final three (or four?) spots in the rotation.

Candidates: Michael Fulmer, Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Julio Teheran, José Ureña

Long Shots: Tyler Alexander, Daniel Norris, Matt Manning

As hinted at above, we still don’t know if the Tigers will go with a five-man rotation or a six-man rotation this year. There are a lot of innings to handle, and a number of young arms to protect, so the Tigers may even go deeper, using a four- or five-man rotation followed by a tandem start each week. That’s the path we see right now.

José Ureña has been used as a swing man in the past, but given how early the team signed him it seems probable he’ll join the rotation. It also seems likely Teheran makes the staff, even though he isn’t technically on the 40-man roster yet, and his 2020 season was objectively awful. He has a long history of eating innings, and that’s what this team needs.

There has been talk of Daniel Norris and Tyler Alexander competing for a shot at the rotation, but both performed well last year in their roles as long relievers. Michael Fulmer struggled mightily in 2020, but he’s still recovering from a pair of surgeries, and it behooves the organization at least try to get him back to his previous form. The guess here is we see a return to a tandem setup, where Fulmer pitches as long as he can as the nominal starter, and Alexander comes in after him.

We finish with the prospects. Manning is the biggest long shot, but he certainly has the talent to win a spot. That leaves Mize and Skubal, who both hit some speed bumps in limited MLB action last year. We think Skubal showed more signs of being effective at the MLB level, so if any of the prospects wins a job we think it’s him.

Odds to Win a Rotation Spot: Teheran 70%, Ureña 70%, Fulmer 40%, Skubal 30%, Alexander 10%, Norris 10%, Mize 10%, Manning 5%

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