Detroit Tigers: The first 40 games of 2021 has shown little growth

Through May 16, 2021, AJ Hinch and Miguel Cabrera have combined for 3,092 hits in the majors. One of them MIGHT have contributed more to that total than the other.
Through May 16, 2021, AJ Hinch and Miguel Cabrera have combined for 3,092 hits in the majors. One of them MIGHT have contributed more to that total than the other. /
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Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers /

The Ugly in the first 40 Detroit Tigers games:

Victor Reyes

A.J. Hinch has shown he is not afraid to change things up, and when Nomar Mazara came back from the IL, Victor Reyes was sent to Toledo. Before it seemed like Reyes was on the roster because the Tigers didn’t really have any other option, but even with all of Akil Baddoo’s struggles, he has shown flashes of extra-base power and speed. We haven’t been able to say that for Reyes.

One of the ugliest moments of the season was watching Reyes lose that flyball in centerfield in Oakland. He is who is he, a player who does not walk a lot, strikes out, and does not hit for power. His fWAR of -0.7 was among the worst on the team.

Willi Castro

The Willi Castro experiment at shortstop lasted until April 21, during which time he put up a DRS of -2. Since then he has been playing at second base and looking no better defensively, piling up a DRS of -4 at his new position.

At the plate, he is striking out around 30% with little power and a wRC+ of 59. He seems to be pressing too much at the plate but there aren’t any real alternatives available (Jonathan Schoop at first, Isaac Paredes in Toledo, Renato Nunez a non-factor). If he continues to struggle, the Tigers could put Schoop back at second, move Eric Haase at first with Miguel Cabrera, and give Castro time to figure things out in Triple-A.

Buck Farmer and the rotating bullpen arms

The ongoing road up I-75 from Toledo to Detroit was expected to be busy, but seeing Buck Farmer head down to Toledo was ugly. He has been with the ball club since 2014 and while his K per 9 numbers have been on the decline, it is strange to think he is not with the team anymore.

Joe Jimenez’s struggles continue to get worse, but once again, if you look to Toledo or Erie for help there aren’t many options. Alex Lange got the opportunity but was just sent back down last night after allowing five home runs in 13.1 innings pitched. Farmer and Lange combined to allow 11 home runs in 24 innings pitched. Yikes.

Gregory Soto’s four saves are nice, but 13 walks in 13 innings pitched is not, nor is Bryan Garcia’s 10 walks in 14.1 innings pitched. The bullpen has been a nightly adventure.

Another free agent pitcher hits the IL

Julio Teheran hit the 60 day IL, joining the ranks of free-agent pitchers the Tigers have signed like Matt Moore, Tyson Ross, and Ivan Nova.  Taijuan Walker, who the Tigers were rumored to be interested in the off-season, and I thought would be a good fit in the rotation, is 3-1 with an ERA of 2.20.

The Minnesota Twins are in last place but…

The Twins are 2-8 in their last 10 games compared to Detroit being 6-4. Twins fans and the league expected them to be better. Even with that in mind, FanGraphs still gives the Twins a 9.0% chance they will make the postseason. Meanwhile, Detroit still stands at 0%.

Detroit has given us some exciting moments this season, from Akil Baddoo memorable start to Casey Mize continuing to grow as a starter, but the lack of depth on the team is forcing A.J. Hinch to be creative. The hope is that the farm system starts to show a few budding talents to come through, but we shall see if they get an opportunity.

For now, as the Pistons and Red Wings seasons come to an end, we watch the Detroit Tigers, hopeful they can improve and provide some consistent entertainment value.