3 Tigers storylines to pay attention to at Opening Day in Detroit

What to keep your eye on as the Tigers head to Detroit for their 2024 home opener
Apr 1, 2024; New York City, New York, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher Carson Kelly (15) reacts after
Apr 1, 2024; New York City, New York, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher Carson Kelly (15) reacts after / John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Day in Detroit is a tradition like no other; however, this season, the Tigers are coming into the home opener as one of the hottest teams in baseball. With a sweep of the White Sox followed by a pair of extra-innings wins over the Mets, the Tigers have been playing a brand of entertaining baseball.

Coming into town are the Oakland A's who, similar to the Mets and White Sox, are off to a rough start not only on the field with home crowds barely over 3,000 but the news that they will be playing their next three seasons at Sutter Health Park, home of the Sacramento RiverCats before they head to Vegas in 2028.

But we are not here to discuss the embarrassing state of the soon-to-be just the A's, let's dive into the three storylines to pay attention to for today's game.

1. Carson Kelly provides some sort of backup catcher stablity

Carson Kelly's performance in spring training showed he was healthy from past wrist injuries, and it has continued into the regular season. He's 4-for-14 to start the season, with one of the bigger moments in the young season.

He also had an RBI single in the 10th in Detroit's 7-6 win in Chicago last Saturday. With fellow catcher Jake Rogers off to a slow start at the plate, Kelly has been able to provide some sort of spark.

2. Where to place Alex Lange?

Tigers manager AJ. .Hinch has been good at leveraging his bullpen, however, the question becomes where to use reliever Alex Lange?

So far, in one appearance this season that dates back to March 30, Lange walked three of the four batters, which continues a trend from last season, in which his walk rate went from 11.4% in 2022 to 15.6% in 2023. Hinch could use Lange in low-level situations going forward and with the A's coming to town, that opportunity may present itself.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Tigers' bullpen has the second-best ERA in baseball at 1.89, trailing only Boston's 1.54. So far, it has been their strongest position, with Jason Foley leading the charge. His slider is dropping 3 inches more than the league average. The pitch's velocity has increased, and combined with a fastball that has topped 100 mph several times, Foley has developed wipeout stuff.

3. The Tigers' starting pitching depth is trending upwards

It was a given that after the game on Thursday as the team's 27th man that Matt Manning was heading back to join the Mud Hens but that didn't stop him from spinning five no-hit innings. As Kurt pointed out recently, Manning should be in the rotation. However, he isn't the only name that should deserve future consideration for a spot in the rotation.

His teammate, Keider Montero, who in his first start for Toledo this season, tossed four innings, allowed two hits and struck out six. He generated 12 swing and misses. Granted, the bats may be getting off to a cold start, but it was his stuff that really stood out.