With the MLB back up and rolling, I figured it was time to talk about the Tigers. I’ve written articles berating the Pistons and Lions for being so bad for so long, but the Tigers are a little bit of a different story. Yes, the Tigers haven’t made the playoffs since 2014, but they’re certainly headed in a better direction than the other two major Detroit sports teams. Personally, I think the Tigers are closer to playoff contention than the Lions and the Pistons. Let me tell you why.
The Tigers recently picked college phenom Spencer Torkelson out of Arizona State with their first overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft. Torkelson is a franchise player who could change the state of this franchise in a few years. Detroit actually had a very nice 2020 draft class as a whole, adding two other top 50 prospects.
In a recent article by ESPN, the Tigers were rated as the 24th best team in the MLB, which doesn’t seem the greatest. However, a direct quote states “If you want to dream big, the bullpen has been excellent -- Tyler Alexander tied an AL record with nine straight strikeouts on Sunday (former Tiger Doug Fister, of all pitchers, held the mark) -- and with so many teams struggling to lock down the late innings, that's one way the Tigers might surprise. That seems unlikely, but odds are we're going to see one surprise team make the playoffs.”
With a great draft class now in their arsenal, Detroit is trending in the right direction. The Tigers are currently 5-5, and have been playing better than I thought they would. Coming off of their abysmal 2019-2020 record of 47-114, I figured the Tigers would continue to struggle this season and wait for their young players to develop. However, they’re actually showing some promise.
Their bullpen has been strong, notching 74 strikeouts through 10 games, while only allowing 82 hits. Tyler Alexander, Spencer Turnbull, and Matthew Boyd have all been playing well and will be critical to the Tigers’ success, should they find any this season. With the way this season is going due to COVID-19, I could see this bullpen attacking teams that could be missing their star batters and securing some unlikely wins.
While the bullpen has been on fire, the bats have not. The Tigers have struck out 102 times in 10 games, and have only hit the ball 62 times. When I wrote this article, no one on the team was batting over .300 except for JaCoby Jones, and the team's batting average as a whole was a lackluster .205. Long gone are the glory days of Miguel Cabrera, although he has hit three home runs in the early part of the season, which is certainly nice to see.
If the Tigers want to make a push for the playoffs, they will have to get their bats going quickly. Their bullpen is strong, but not strong enough to carry the team on their shoulders. The pen just isn’t good enough for that kind of stress.
I am actually very happy with how the Tigers are building their roster. They tanked last season, and now are in a good position to build over the next few years. They’ve also managed to build a squad that could catch fire in the meantime and make a push for the wildcard, which is made easier by a lack of high expectations on their shoulders
Be patient with the Tigers, Detroit fans. They’re on the right track, and could be back in the World Series sooner than you think.