Detroit Tigers 2024 Opening Day roster projection 3.0: Tough luck for one starting pitcher

Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch walks off the field after live batting practice during spring
Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch walks off the field after live batting practice during spring / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

We are now less than a week away from Opening Day, are there are just five cuts left to make on the Tigers Opening Day roster. We're almost there.

We also have a pretty good idea as to who will make this team. There's really only a couple more spots to figure out — one in the starting rotation, and one in the bullpen. Still, we would be remiss if we didn't go through the entire roster one last time.

It's time to see who's in, and who's off the Tigers Opening Day roster, in our humble opinion. We've got a lot of ground to cover, so let's start with the backstops.

Catchers: Jake Rogers, Carson Kelly

This is all but officially set in stone. A.J. Hinch recently referred both Rogers and Kelly as a "tandem." Those two are going to be the catchers on the Opening Day roster.

It'll be interesting to see how the divide the playing time between the two. Rogers has what it takes to be an everyday guy, but Kelly has some prospect pedigree and has swung a hot bat this spring. That'll be something to watch early in on the regular season

First base: Spencer Torkelson

Tork will be the starting first baseman. This we know. What we don't know is whether his abysmal spring training performance will carry over into the regular season.

Tork has just four hits in 40 plate appearances this spring. He's hitting just .114 with a .425 OPS. Spring training stats don't really matter, but that's downright awful.

He does have a track record of performing poorly in spring training and getting off to a slow start. Hopefully, he can avoid the second part this year.

Second base: Colt Keith

Keith hasn't had an amazing spring, but he's done nothing to suggest that he doesn't deserve to be on the Opening Day roster. It's his job to lose.

Third base: Gio Urshela, Andy Ibanez

We still have these two splitting time. Since they are both right-handed, it'll be interesting to see how they split the playing time, but Hinch has said it'll still be a revolving door at third base this year. Yay.

Shortstop: Javier Baez

Yes, he's had a terrible spring. No, the Tigers are getting rid of him anytime soon. Much like Tork, I wouldn't worry until we get deep into May. There's not much else to say.

Outfield: Mark Canha, Parker Meadows, Riley Greene

With Greene healthy, the Tigers are shaping up to have a pretty solid outfield in 2024, especially if Parker Meadows plays up to his potential. Canha should provide a nice veteran prescence.

Designated hitter: Kerry Carpenter

Carpenter slides to DH with Greene being able to play the outfield, though Canha will probably get some reps here, and switch with Carp to try to get him off his feet. The Tigers want some flexibility at this position in 2024.

Bench/utilitymen: Zach McKinstry, Matt Vierling

Both McKinstry and Vierling are too players I'm personally not fond of. However, they've both looked impressive this spring. They are both working on swing adjustments, and we're already starting to see some pay off.

McKinstry had three really solid ABs in Wednesday's game against Twins. He singled in an 0-2 count in his first at-bat, hit a 401-foot sac fly with the bases loaded in his second at-bat, then laced another single to right in his third AB. He showed flashes of the McKinstry we saw in May of last season.

Vierling had a monster day at the plate on Wednesday, going 2-4 with a home runs and four RBIs. His swing definitely looks smoother.

If both of thse guys are able to apply these changes into regular season games, that makes the Tigers that much deeper. Heck, even just having one of them look better adds some much-needed depth to this team.

Starting rotation: Tarik Skubal, Kenta Maeda, Jack Flaherty, Matt Manning, Casey Mize

Man, this was tough. Every candidate for the Tigers' starting rotation has pitched very well this spring. You've got Tarik Skubal looking like the potential Cy Young candidate many people think he is. You've got Jack Flaherty hitting 97 mph on his fastball when you were happy if he hit 94 last season. Then you've got Casey Mize painting 98 on the outside black. What a spring it's been for Tigers pitchers.

But in the end, there's only five spots available for six guys, so one guy has to miss the cut. It really feels like that guy is going to be Reese Olson, through no fault of his own.

He has a 3.68 ERA in 14.2 IP. His very first start of the spring was his only bad outing. You can probably chalk that up to jitters.

The biggest reason for this isthat with Olson, it comes down to team control. Olson has significantly less service time compared to Mize and Manning. They could still gain that extra year of team control if he starts the year in the minors. It's incredibly unfair, and kinda cruel on the Tigers part, but that's just kind of how the cards have fallen. This was first noted by Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press ($$$).

Don't get me wrong. I love Reese Olson. I'd love to have him make the team. But it just feels like this is the way things are headed. He'll me on this team at some point this season, it just won't be on Opening Day.

Bullpen: Alex Lange, Jason Foley, Will Vest, Shelby Miller, Tyler Holton, Andrew Chafin, Beau Brieske, Joey Wentz

Another one that was tough. We're down to eight spots with 10 guys competing for them. Here, it comes down tp options.

Joey Wentz doesn't have any options left. Guys like Alex Faedo do. They can easily just send Faedo to Toledo and not have to worry about him. With Wentz, they'd have to DFA him and hope he clears waivers, and this time of year, right before the season starts, it's hard to clear guys through waivers.

I personally think we've seen all that Wentz can offer — and it's not much. I'd rather carry Faedo because I think there's still more in the tank there. But, the options are probably what this is coming down to. Wentz would also give them another lefty, so there's that.

There is one more guy vying for a spot that we haven't talked about much, and that's Drew Anderson. He's the only non-roster pitcher left in camp. He's been awfully impressive.

He has 2.35 ERA and 13 strikeouts in just 7.2 IP this spring. He spent a couples years in Japan before being signed to a minor league deal by the Tigers this offseason. Last time he was in the big leagues with Texas, he hanging around 93 mph on his fastball. The Tigers have him throwing 98.

He's been a nice story, but I think they'll take their chances on the waiver wire with him. They'd rather lose a random minor league signing than one of their own.