Tomorrow real baseball games start.
The Blue Jays start the season at home with a four game series with the Tigers. Last year the Tigers 64-98, amazingly enough good for 3rd in the AL Central (I wonder if we could swap divisions?). This year, PECOTA figures them to finish 66-96.
I sent off some questions to Ashley MacLennan from Bless You Boys, SB Nation’s Tigers blog. Here are the answers:
The Tigers, like the Jays aren’t likely to be contending for a playoff spot this year, what would you consider a successful season for the Tigers?
I would consider it a successful year if Miguel Cabrera stays healthy, the Tigers won 70 games, and the club finally figured out what they were doing with Daniel Norris: starter? reliever? lumberjack?
With Michael Fulmer out for the season, who is the opening day starter? Can you give us a quick scouting report of the starting pitchers we will see?
Tigers’ manager Ron Gardenhire is old school as they come, and even if Fulmer had been healthy, he wouldn’t have started Opening Day. The most likely rotation for the series is going to be Jordan Zimmermann on the bump for Opening Day, as he’s the longest tenured player. And while he isn’t the Zimmermann of his National days, he looked pretty good this spring. Then you’ve got Matthew Boyd, who might be the closest thing the Tigers currently have to an ace in their rotation. He’s good... not amazing... but consistent. Then because Matt Moore pitched against the Rays on Tuesday, I suspect game three will go to Tyson Ross, who is certainly a pitcher who throws pitches for the Detroit Tigers.
You have a couple of former Blue Jays, what do you expect from Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd this year?
Daniel Norris is near and dear to my heart, I want so badly for the Man with the Van to succeed, but the Tigers can’t quite seem to pin down what it is they want to do with him. He’s been groomed as a starter but plagued by injury, and frankly I don’t think the Tigers have much faith in him. His velo is down quite a bit, and I suspect we’ll see him used in relief to start the season. Matthew Boyd has been great, really consistent, and getting better as he goes.
We are anxious for Vlad Jr. to join the Jays. What prospects are Tigers fans looking forward to getting to see?
I think most Tigers fans are hyped for the pitchers who are a few years from the majors, guys like Casey Mize and Matt Manning. I’d say for folks we’ll see sooner Christin Stewart is going to be a lot of fun to watch this season, and for myself personally it’s catching prospect Jake Rogers that I’m most keen to see in the bigs.
Miguel Cabrera missed most of last season with a biceps tendon rupture (it just sound painful). Is he healthy now? What to you expect from him this year?
Miggy looks great this season so far. He’s mashing home runs, throwing around one-liners, and generally looking like the Miggy of old. I’m not expecting 2012/2013 Cabrera out of him, but he’ll hit more than 20 HRs for sure if he stays healthy. The key is going to be limiting his time at first and leaning on him to stay DH at least half of his games. I think that will go a long way to keeping him from hurting himself.
With James McCann gone who will be catching for the Tigers this year? What do you expect?
Grayson Greiner, who played about 30 games last year, is on track to be the catcher this season, splitting time with John Hicks, who will also platoon with Miggy at first. The Tigers also have some guys in the minors who could assist, like the recently re-hired Bobby Wilson, but I expect it’ll be mostly Greiner and Hicks, much to my chagrin, since I’d really hoped they would sign a veteran guy over the offseason.
And there will be a new middle of the infield. Who will be playing the middle of the infield spots?
The guys you’ll see around the bases will most likely be: Miguel Cabrera/John Hicks at first; Josh Harrison at second; Jordy Mercer at SS; and Jeimer Candelario at third. There could be some shakeups with Niko Goodrum taking second one of the days of the series, but the new Pirates-heavy infield is what you’re likely to see most days. I’m not mad at it.
What do you expect for the team record and who’s your pick for team MVP for the season?
I think I estimated 68 wins for the team but expect they will not be the worst in the AL Central -- I see you Royals -- and I think Nicholas Castellanos will be the MVP for the Tigs.
Thanks Ashley. I’ll wish you guys good luck after this series is over.