Tigers free agent signing struggles, allows 3 long balls in win over White Sox

Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox
Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

For the first time in what feels like a long time, the Tigers were able to win a game desite a poor outing from their starting pitcher. The Tigers defeated the White Sox, 7-6, in an extra-inning, come-from-behind win on Saturday. All six runs scored by the White Sox came off Tigers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda.

The Tigers signed Maeda to a two-year, $24 million deal this offseason. After an initial scare in spring training with his fastball velocity hanging around 88, it got back up to his usual 91-92 by the end of spring and he was looking pretty sharp. It looked like the Tigers had themselves a nice crafty veteran for 2024.

Well, it was just one start, but Maeda struggled mightlily. He was having trouble locating his secondary pitches all game, and his fastball dipped back down to that 88-89 mph range. The result was six runs allowed on three home runs.

Maeda just didn't have it in this one. It's not clear whether it was the weather in Chicago, or he simply never got a feel for any of his pitches.

The Tigers offense even gave him an early 3-0 lead, but that disappeared by the second inning. It was a rough debut for Kenta Maeda.

Thankfully, the Tigers bullpen picked him up big time. Combine with six different pitchers, the Tigers 'pen pitched 6.2 innings and didn't allow a run. They allowed just five hits and walked three batters — all by Alex Lange, who will be the topic of another article in the near future.

The important thing is the Tigers won to improve to 2-0 on the young season. 162-0 is still in play. But Maeda will have to be much better moving forward. If he wasn't signed beyong this season, it wouldn't be a huge deal because they could easily cut him if he keeps struggling. But since he's signed for two years, the Tigers are going to need him to figure it out.