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Detroit Tigers Season Preview

It’s almost here! We are just a couple weeks away from the opening day and the start of the marathon that is the Major League season. With game about to count for real it seems like a good time to take a look at the Detroit Tigers and make some predictions and set at least one authors expectations on what would make a successful 2024 for the Tigers.

It’s been seven seasons sense the Tigers last posted a winning a record and its been ten seasons sense they made a playoff appearance. So why am I predicting the Tigers will win 88 games this season? Rotation, offensive growth, and a pitching development staff that is able to help pitchers get the most out of their stuff.

The rotation is shaping up to be the strength of this version of the Tigers team. Tarik Skubal is being picked by some sites as a dark horse for the Cy Young, I think he will come up short of that due to inning restrictions coming off a 2023 where he was only able to make 15 starts and 80.1 innings, in his return from flexor tendon surgery. In those 15 starts however, Skubal was dominant, posting a K/BB rate of 7.29 and an ERA of 2.80, his FIP was even better 2.00. Skubal has looked even more locked in this summer, hitting 100 MPH on his fastball, while demonstrating the ability to pitch inside to right-handers with ease.

The rest of the rotation looks above average as well. Kenta Maeda understands “the art of pitching” and while his velocity isn’t in the 92-93 range yet, he is able to mix pitches and locate everything expertly. Jack Flaherty is hoping the Tigers’ pitching staff can work the same magic with him that they did with Michael Lorenzen in 2023. So far this spring, Flaherty is looking like he is regaining the command that allowed him to be a top five Cy Young candidate. The last two sports in the rotation will be filled by two of the last three starters standing: Casey Mize, Matt Manning, and Reece Olson. Mize is coming off of nearly two years away from competitive pitching due to injury, while Manning is also coming back from two freak foot injuries which limited him to 78 innings across 15 starts in 2023.

Meanwhile Olson didn’t look that impressive to begin the season at AAA, but it all clicked when he came up the majors and it ended with Olson posting a 3.99 ERA over 103.2 innings. As of this writing the guess is Mize and Manning will open the year in the rotation, but Olson will be critical when the inevitable injury hits someone. In addition to Olson, the Tigers have Sawyer Gipson-Long, Alex Faedo, Mason Englert, Wilmer Flores, and Ty Madden will most likely start the year at AAA and should be ready to step in should a hole open in the rotation.

The 2023 Tigers offense was terrible, and that is being nice. For the season the offense posted a -79 run differential, which was improvement over 2022 where they posted a -156 run differential. In spite of the ugly overall numbers there are a number of underlining numbers that suggest the Tigers are going to be better in 2024. First the Tigers have a young core of hitters who began to really come into their own as the season progressed. Torkelson posted his first 30 homer campaign and the prediction for 2024 is he will top 35 while also bringing up his batting average into the .265 range. Riley Greene has been limited by injuries in his first two seasons in the majors and both were freak type injuries, first being hit by a pitch and then his nonthrowing elbow while making a diving catch. If Greene can stay healthy and .300 season with 20 home runs from the top of the order is realistic. Kerry Carpenter is the third of the young bats to impress in 2023. The former 19th round pick ultimately posted a wRC+ of 121 while posting the second highest WAR among position players. He will likely see the majority of the time at DH in 2024, but his defense was league average in the corner. Finaly Jake Rogers was able to pair his defense and power in 2023 hitting 21 home runs, albeit with a low batting average.

In addition to those four Matt Vierling is versatile and will play a critical role with his speed and ability to put the ball in play. Another defensive wizard who I think will surprise in 2024 is Parker Meadows. Meadows appeared in 37 games in 2023 and possesses a plus glove along with double plus speed. The bat has been a question mark sense his prep days, but a shorter swing has led to better discipline and improved contact rates. Meadows will hit toward the bottom of the order, but his speed power combo will have a positive impact on the offense for the full season. Finally, there is the newest young bat: Colt Keith. He has looked comfortable both in the batter’s box and in the field and brings the ability to hit for both average and power from the left side.

All told the 2024 version of the Detroit Tigers should be a lot more fun to watch for Tigers fans. The Tigers should be playing meaningful baseball into the end of September and depending how the injury and development front plays out (for both the Tigers and their AL Central counterparts) the Tigers may very well break into the playoffs for the first time in a decade. It is spring, hope and optimism reign!

Joe Underhill
Joe Underhillhttps://mlbreport.com/
Joe Underhill is a high school administrator and diehard baseball fan and fan of the city of Detroit. Joe currently writes for www.mlbreport.com and HTP Newsletter. You can follow Joe on Twitter @TransplantedDet and @transplanteddet.bsky.social


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