It is hardly a secret that the Detroit Tigers have struggled in 2023 so far. As of 6/22, they find themselves four games back in the woeful American League Central and eight games back in the AL wild card race which is decidedly more competitive. Its fair to say that while there weren't huge expectations for the Tigers in 2023, their chances have been greatly hurt by the sheer number of injuries they have endured this season.
However, despite losing most of their ideal rotation and several key pieces of their offense, the Tigers are still somehow in contention for a playoff spot. Again, the AL Central is truly terrible this year. The Minnesota Twins currently lead the division with a sub .500 record and no team in the division looks particularly hot at the moment. The Indians' pitching has been solid, but that offense isn't scaring anyone. The White Sox and Royals already look like they are going to be sellers at the trade deadline and are unlikely to factor in the division race.
This is a weird situation that Detroit has the unique ability to take advantage of if some things go their way. We will be covering the Tigers and the trade deadline as we get closer, but there is a real argument to be made that they should actually be buyers. However, for that to be feasible, some of these injuries have to start having some pretty favorable outcomes over the next month or so.
Here is a look some of the injured Tigers players whose returns in 2023 could help save Detroit's season.
This one is a no brainer. The Tigers' offense has been one of the worst ones in baseball with a team wRC+ of 87 (for reference, 100 is average). Conversely, before he went down with a stress fracture in his left fibula, Riley Greene looked poised to break out in 2023 as he had a 127 wRC+ and a .296/.362/.443 slash line. He still leads the team in fWAR at 1.6 despite not playing a game in the month of June.
Fortunately for the Tigers, Greene seems to be on the comeback trail. He is already starting to run a bit again, playing catch, and doing some work in the batting cage as well. A lot of his return will depend on how his leg looks on scans, but he could return in July and immediately provide Detroit's lineup with a big boost.