What should the Tigers do with Spencer Torkelson as struggles plateau?

Should Tigers fans be worried?
Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees
Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

One of the handful of first-round draft picks on the Detroit Tigers' roster is coming through in a huge way for the team after a sluggish start. Riley Greene was on a steady incline throughout April, but he really seemed to break through on April 30, with a 3-for-5 day (including a double and a home run) at the plate. He's only gone hitless in two games since then, has hit two more home runs, and is making some great catches in the outfield to back up his pitchers.

However, the other first-rounder in the Tigers everyday lineup, Spencer Torkelson, isn't faring so well. After a 30-plus home run season and only missing two games in 2023, Torkelson is sitting at zero home runs and only 12 extra-base hits and 12 RBI over 35 games. Overall, he's hitting .221 with a .688 OPS through May 8.

So how do you solve a problem like Spencer Torkelson? The Tigers have already sent Parker Meadows back to Toledo after he couldn't get his batting average above .100 in 32 games. Torkelson's not doing quite as bad, but the Tigers desperately need pop in the lineup that Torkelson isn't providing.

Tigers aren't demoting Spencer Torkelson after early season struggles, but what comes next?

AJ Hinch told reporters flatly that the team had not engaged in conversations about sending Torkelson to Triple-A, citing that he's more of a proven player at the major league level than Meadows was, and they "really want Tork to figure it out [in the majors]." So when would his performance warrant a more serious conversation?

The Tigers don't have as many options at first as they do the rest of the infield; Matt Vierling, Andy Ibáñez, and Zach McKinstry are all primed and ready to take over at second, shortstop, and third, but there are fewer backups for first base. They could move Mark Canha from the outfield and kick Vierling out there, but it would leave the Tigers with fewer options at third given Gio Urshela's absence with injury. They also don't have great first basemen depth in the minors to call on.

So the Tigers are stuck at a bit of an impasse. They won't send Torkelson down (yet), so he'll need to get better to justify that decision. Maybe all it'll take will be a small tweak to his swing or to his mentality, but a big change needs to come quickly.

More Detroit Tigers News from Motor City Bengals