Detroit Tigers: Run production could be a real problem for this team
By Tyler Kotila
Run production will be an issue for the Detroit Tigers in 2023.
The Detroit Tigers 2023 season certainly did not start as the team hoped for. They opened up against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, and the results were putrid. The Tigers scored just three runs across three games.
Rays pitcher Shane McLanahan held the Detroit Tigers scoreless on Opening Day, and the bullpen helped the Rays cap off the 4-0 win. On Saturday, Spencer Turnbull's start turned sour, but the Tigers could only muster up two runs courtesy of Miguel Cabrera and Austin Meadows.
Things would have stopped there, too, if it were not for Jake Rogers, who drove one deep beyond the left field wall for a solo home run on Sunday. The Tigers and Rays had been scoreless to start the game, struggling to get anything going, but it was the Rays who had their offense wake up on Sunday to secure the sweep.
Just three runs in three games is not going to work; it's not going to win this club ballgames or keep them in them. Today, the Rays got out to their lead, and even two runs felt like the game was over. Now, the Rays had left-handed Jeffrey Springs on the mound, which was absolutely dealing, but a 5-0 lead seemed like a 10-0 lead.
Springs delivered six no-hit innings for the Rays and may have gone out for the seventh if the Rays did not break things open in the bottom of the sixth for a three-run inning. Now, the Tigers are three games into a 162-game sprint, which is less than 2% of the entire season, but this showed reason for concern.
The Tigers' offense struggled, setting the tone on Opening Day with struggles offensively while Eduardo Rodríguez battled on the mound. McLanahan may be one of the game's premier pitchers, and the hopes for a good season may not be high, but there's plenty of reason to worry already about this team's offense, or lack thereof.
Through three games, the Tigers managed 14 hits, which is excellent, but only five were for extra bases. Everything else being singles. They drew just six walks on the weekend and were punched out an astounding 30 times on the weekend.
For the math majors out there, they are averaging ten punchouts per game to kick off the season. Now, some teams are going to compete for a World Series come October that did not have the best opening series, and that's okay, but there's reason to be worried about the Tigers after they were unable to get the bats to function against Tampa Bay. Plus, Detroit is not playing for a World Series; they're playing for the best odds to land Jac Caglianone in 2024.
The Tigers' new President of Baseball Operations, Scott Harris, spoke about wanting to control the strike zone and dominate at-bats. He spoke about doing that on the level of driving pitches that are part of each hitter's approach, taking good pitches, and avoiding chasing, among some of the things.
With just five extra-base hits and 30 punchouts for the Tigers hitters in this young season... they are certainly not doing a good job of adhering to Scott Harris' pillar of dominating the strike zone. There is a long road ahead with time to improve things, but the Tigers set the bar extremely low to start the season.
Maybe it's pessimistic to not think there's reason to improve, but the Tigers set the bar low and it may not move very high at all in 2023. The offense will struggle to manufacture runs, they have a few players who are intriguing in their own right, but as a collective, it may get ugly.