HomeTeamsTigersDetroit Tigers: 10 Observation After the First Series

Detroit Tigers: 10 Observation After the First Series

It has been the start the Tigers were hoping for in 2024. They opened the season with a three-game road sweep of the division rival Chicago White Sox. Here are 10 observations from the opening series.

  1. Tarik Skubal is an Ace. Skubal had a lights out performance in the season opener without his best stuff. His command was a little off, especially early, but he dialed in and only allowed three hits in his six innings of work. 71% of his pitches were strikes leading to six strikeouts and no walks. If Skubal can continue this level of performance, his case to be a Cy Young candidate will only grow.
  2. The bullpen is a difference maker. Last year the Tigers bullpen ranked in the middle of the majors in most categories. While it’s early, it is looking like A.J. Hinch has the chess pieces he craves for his late game substitutions. Against the White Sox, the bullpen threw 12.2 innings, striking out 14, while walking 4 (three of those in a third of an inning by Alex Lange). They have given up just four hits and one earned run. Lange is going to have to get his command figured out, when he is able to be in and around the zone he is scary pitcher to face…when he isn’t…well 8 for 23 is not a good recipe for success.
  3. The Tigers offense looks like it will be better than last year. By just about any measure you want to use the Tigers offense was abysmal in 2023, with only Mark Canha and Gio Urshela as the “big” offensive additions most wondered whether the Tigers were going to show any improvement. The early answer is yes. The bench is stronger and like the bullpen, Hinch is a master of creating matchups that favor his players. Sunday’s performance against the Sox was a master class in how to manage a game, credit Andy Ibanez with the game winning pinch hit, but it was Hinch that set it all up. Overall, (with the exception of Javier Baez), the team has looked more disciplined at the plate and it hasn’t felt like the team was out of a game (coming back multiple times on Saturday).
  4. The Tigers team defense is very good. Both Zack McKinstry and Gio Urshela have turned in superb plays at third, while Parker Meadows and Riley Greene have already begun compiling a series of highlight real catches in the outfield and Spencer Torkelson has been playing solid first base.
  5. Is there any hope for Javy? In 2023, Javier Baez put up the worst offensive season of his professional career. There have been a couple of moments, but overall Baez has not looked good at the plate. Baez is two-for-thirteen with four strikeouts and a wRC+ of 39 (Fangraphs). I’m not sure why an opposing pitcher would throw a pitch within the strike zone when facing Baez, so far he has shown no ability to lay off a sweeper or slider out of the zone.
  6. What is wrong with Torkelson’s bat? When Torkelson came out of Arizona State his scouting report suggested an above-average hitter with plus plus power. Right now Tork seems to simply hit infield fly balls, with an average exit velo of just 83.2 mph. It’s still super early, but Tork needs to figure out how to square up a few more pitches and be selectively aggressive at the plate.
  7. Riley Greene looks healthy and confident. The biggest question for Greene is would he trust his arm enough to dive…well he’s answered that question with multiple driving catches on the same field that ended his season in 2023. While the defense has been good, his bat hasn’t shown up yet. He’s hit a couple of barrels but doesn’t have anything to show for it. The Tigers offense needs Greene and Tork to be the middle of the order bats their talent suggests they should be.
  8. The Rookies look good. The Tigers have two rookies in the everyday lineup. Parker Meadows and Colt Keith. Meadows is a plus plus runner and defender and his glove will keep him in the lineup. So far, he only has one hit, but it was a triple, and he has a pair of walks. Keith signed a big contract extension before the season and has transitioned to second base. So far Keith has looked at home defensively. He’s made good throws and looks comfortable at second base. Offensively, Keith got his first hit of the year in the opener and hasn’t looked over matched even though he hasn’t gotten his second hit yet.
  9. The free agents are solid. Both free agent pitchers have made their Tiger’s debut. Kenta Maeda would like a do-over while Jack Flaherty was excellent. Maeda didn’t seem to have a feel for any of his pitches leaving way to may in the middle of the plate, giving up seven hits and six earned runs in only 3.1 innings. Flaherty on the other hand was able to give the Tigers six innings of four-hit, seven strikeout, one-run baseball. He benefited from a generous zone, but if Flaherty is able to get closer to his 2019 form rather than is 2023 form the Tigers will have a winner. Speaking of winners, Mark Canha has been a win for the Tigers, he never seems to be overwhelmed at the plate and has been the most productive bat thus far. Gio Urshela made his first start of the season on Sunday and all he did is go two-for-four with a web gem at third. Lastly both bullpen arms have shown they are solid and reliable. Shelby Miller has been lights out, and Andrew Chafin is solid against both right and lefthanders. Chafin has given up the only run from the bullpen in 2024, but he’s been money.
  10. The home run celebration needs a little more sauce. Spencer Torkelson has been the brainchild behind last year’s Red Wing themed celebration and this year’s “Little Ceasars” celebration. Although at this point it feels like it needs a little more…walking dugout with a few fake pizzas on a spear looks a little odd. They need to add some sauce (pun fully intended) to the celebration.
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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