Detroit Tigers Starting Pitcher – Justin Verlander
Here’s another total fantasy which if the Genie from “Aladdin” came to life and granted me three wishes, one would be for Al Avila and the big brass to bring back future Hall of Famer and Tigers great Justin Verlander.
How great would it be for this to be the year the Tigers actually shock some people and make a run with JV leading the charge? The answer, to quote a famous tiger in his own right, would be grrrrreat!
He hasn’t pitched since 2020 due to Tommy John surgery, but there’s no doubt he’s got a lot left in the tank. All he needs now is a salmon-colored blazer. That being said, maybe we can get the aforementioned Miguel Cabrera fitted for a salmon blazer as well.
Closer – Gregory Soto/Michael Fulmer
The Tigers aren’t going to be in the mix for any of the big-name closers like Kenley Jansen or Craig Kimbrel, and I liked most of what I saw from Soto in the role last season. The big drawback would be that Soto walked far too many hitters (40 BB in 63 2/3 innings), but I think that will improve this year.
I liked Soto splitting the role with teammate Michael Fulmer, but with far more years of control to his name, I say let Soto carry the bulk of saves.
Fulmer is a free agent after this upcoming season, so if they want to have him close more games early in the season to build his trade value if I’d be fine with that as well. If Fulmer is going to be a dominant bullpen arm, I wouldn’t mind thinking about signing him long-term if the team is in a position to do so.
There you have it, folks. My reasonable “dream” lineup for opening day 2022.