Detroit Tigers: Spencer Turnbull could be a real bright spot in the rotation

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull delivers a pitch during the 2021 season.
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull delivers a pitch during the 2021 season. / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Tigers' Spencer Turnbull may be bright spot in the rotation.

The Detroit Tigers are inching closer to Spring Training, and one of the players that it feels like fans often forget about is Spencer Turnbull. Likely because one of the last memory some fans have of him is the no-hitter he threw back in May of 2021 against the Seattle Mariners.

It has been 598 days (at the time of writing) since the Detroit Tigers faithful have seen Turnbull take to the mound and pitch in the big leagues. Quite some time, but the latest updates seem to point to Turnbull being back to 100% and ready to rock'n'roll.

The Tigers saw Turnbull start developing and showing signs of being an asset to the team's rotation, so the injury was a major blow beyond keeping him off the field. Turnbull is a very mental guy, one of those pitchers who can get caught up in starts or wrapped around a role to the point where pressure mounts.

It's not a knock, it's certainly something players have to learn to adjust and deal with, but Turnbull had started to do just that. He had built up some confidence and was pitching quite well. In 2021, before the injury, he had accumulated 50 innings pitched where he had pitched to a 2.88 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP.

Turnbull punched out 44 hitters and issued just 12 free passes. He was excelling on the mound, competing, and finding ways to get hitters out. He may not be an ace, but the upside with him was starting to show. The injury really did put a damper on things, knowing his progress would be halted for upwards of a year and a half.

While he may have been able to sneak back into a game during the 2022 season, the Tigers opted to play it safe instead of rushing him back. He was cleared back to 100% and has been undergoing his regular off-season program throughout this winter leading into 2023.

Turnbull could be primed for a big season with a clean bill of health and plenty of room in the rotation. If he can settle back in and pick up some confidence early, things could go well. The hope has to be for him to come out and try to string a few starts together.

If he can snowball starts early and get his stuff working, he has the pitchability to hold down a number two spot in the organization. It's a best-case scenario, but I'm trying to be positive here. Turnbull has had time to start ramping back up now that he has a clean bill of health; let's hope he can get going this Spring and be a stud for the Tigers' pitching staff in 2023.

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