“You lose, you smile, and you come back the next day. You win, you smile you come back the next day”-Ken Griffey Jr.
The Good in the first 40 Detroit Tigers games:
Robbie Grossman has been one of the better free-agent pickups in quite some time. He has provided a key skill Detroit has been lacking for years, and that is getting on base. He is walking at a 16.6% clip, and after a slow start in April it looks like his swing mechanics are back in line from last season.
As you recall from our get-to-know Robbie Grossman piece a few months back, it appears he is getting back into his habit of using the leg kick that worked so well for him in 2020 by driving the ball more with his lower half. So far in May he is batting .314/.429/.588 with an OPS of 1.017.
Candelario has been the team’s most consistent hitter, batting .286/.363/.393 for a wRC+ of 117, second only to Grossman. He is walking around 10% and his strikeout rate is right at his career average, though he’s not hitting the ball hard yet. His hard-hit contact percentage is down near the 29th percentile.
The reason could be the new ball MLB has been using for 2021, which has balls flying one to two feet shorter. Regardless, Candelario has been a steady performer and one of the few bright spots on the season so far.
Boyd has been the team’s most consistent starter, with an ERA of 2.45. Even with the start against the Cubs yesterday in which he allowed four earned runs, he is sporting a WHIP of 0.97 and has gone six or more innings six times this season, which is impressive, considering the Tigers had no one go six or more innings in 2020 outside of Spencer Turnbull.
This is a case where wins and losses do not matter. His 2-4 record does not show what type of value he has had for Detroit.
Hinch’s decision to put Fulmer back in the bullpen has paid off, with Fulmer rocking a 2.35 ERA so far in 5 appearances in May. He became the first Detroit Tigers pitcher in history to earn a save the day after he started. While the rest of the bullpen has been inconsistent, Fulmer’s returned velocity of 97-98 MPH is a good sign that at least Hinch has one arm he can go to without too many issues.
Honorable mentions: Casey Mize’s last three starts, Harold Castro playing wherever and hitting.