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View from the other side: Tigers questions for Ashley MacLennan of Bless You Boys

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Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins - Game One Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

The Blue Jays host the Tigers for a weekend series. We will see:

Friday (7:00 Eastern): Tyler Alexander (2-2, 4.57) vs Robbie Ray (9-5, 2.88).

Saturday (3:00 Eastern): Wily Peralta (3-2, 3.70) vs Hyun Jin Ryu (11-6, 3.72).

Sunday (1:00 Eastern): Drew Hutchison (0-1, 10.80) vs Steven Matz (10-7, 4.08).

The Tigers are 58-64, good for third place in the AL Central. They are 10th in the AL in run/game at 4.35 (Jays are 3rd at 5.17). And they are 10th in the AL in runs allowed per game at 4.84 (Jays are 6th at 4.18).

Ashley MacLennan from Bless You Boys and I exchanged questions and answers on our respective teams. My half is here.

I like to ask about former Jays, but you guys have a former Jay who really caught me by surprise. How did Drew Hutchison end in your rotation? I’d wish the best for him, but only after this series. Also, what’s the story on Matthew Boyd’s injury? Will he be back anytime soon?

Boyd has been getting some rehab innings in recently, and he looks like he’s healthy and in good shape. I think the Tigers plan is to see how he does through four innings of rehab play and if he’s still feeling good, he should be back in time for September, which the Tigers could certainly use at the moment. As for Drew Hutchison, he was signed to a minor-league deal with the Tigers back in February but has been relegated to the minors the entire season. If I recall right, last week was his first major league start since 2018. His start last week was... not great. He’s been pretty solid in Toledo, so I can see why he was the choice to start that game, but yeah... not great. He’ll have a chance to play on familiar turf this weekend though, he’s slated to start on Sunday.

Your Tigers are four games under .500 and yet third in the AL Central, the Jays are nine games up on .500 and in fourth in the East. Would you be willing to change divisions with us? Please?

Lol, absolutely not. The current mediocrity of the AL Central means the Tigers could finish second in the division and still be under .500. I’d love to see them finish just over that mark.

How are you feeling about the future of the Tigers? Are you expecting a playoff run next year? The year after? Do you see them being near the of the league for several years?

I think a postseason push next year might bit of a stretch, but I wouldn’t be surprised by 2023. The Tigers are seeing really good things from their upcoming young core of players, and if we see Matt Manning, Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene, Kody Clemens, and a few others show they’re really ready, and the team actually spends money this offseason to pick up a strong shortstop with a good bat, then this could really be the turnaround Tigers fans have been waiting for.

Editor note: Kody Clemens is a different person than Koby Clemens, presumably.

The Tigers have roughly two dozen players on the IL. Can you give us status updates on some of them? Maybe Akil Baddoo, Daz Cameron, Jake Rogers, Jose Urena, and Spencer Turnbull?

Yeah, it’s been a tough year for the Tigers in terms of injury, which makes what they’ve been able to do seem all the more impressive. Baddoo went down after a rough outfield collision, but he’s saying he’s feeling good with no ill effects, so we should see him back very soon. Daz Cameron just returned to play in this week’s series against the Angels. Jake Rogers is a real bummer, they’ve moved him to the 60-day IL to make room for their fifth catcher of the season on the roster, and if we see him at all this season again, it won’t be until mid-September, and Eric Haase is also on the IL, though he has caught some bullpen sessions and I suspect will be back before we know it. Jose Urena has been throwing in Triple-A which is a good sign, but to be fair he hasn’t been terribly missed in the starting rotation. Turnbull is done-done, he had Tommy John surgery, so we’ll be lucky if we even see him in 2022.

Next year is likely Miguel Cabrera’s last with the Tigers (presuming he doesn’t land in the top ten of MVP voting). What has it been like getting to watch him every day for the last several years? Is he a first-ballot Hall of Famer? Where does he fit among all-time Tigers? Top 10?

Right now Miggy’s contract is through 2023, but it wouldn’t be a huge shock to see the Tigers part ways with him before it ends. Getting to watch him play through the peak years of his career has been an absolute gift. I remember rushing home from an event one evening in 2012 because I was absolutely desperate to watch him clinch the Triple Crown. He’s accomplished things in his career that players can only dream of, and between this season and next he’ll add 500 home runs and 3000 hits to the existing list of accolades. Cabrera pushed himself to work through injury, through broken bones and done everything possible to take the field as often as possible during some of the best years of the Tigers. Had he not pushed himself so hard, perhaps he wouldn’t be declining the same way now, but what he’s achieved is really amazing. Even now that he’s not at his best, he’s still Miguel Cabrera. Definitely a first-ballot (but not unanimous) Hall of Famer, and I’d argue one of the greatest Tigers hitters ever.

Who is your favorite Tiger to watch?

This season it’s a tie between Akil Baddoo and Eric Haase. It’s just been so fun to see the new generation of players out in the field having a great time, taking big hacks, and just being a lot of fun to watch. It’s a preview of what’s to come, and it has me very excited for the future.

I don’t suppose there is any chance Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene will be up this year, will they start next season with the Tigers?

Tork and Greene were just bumped up to the Tigers Triple-A club this past week, so I don’t think it’s entirely out of the question they get a brief sip of coffee in September, but the Tigers have made it very clear over the last few years of the rebuild that they’re in no rush to get these guys to the big club before they’re ready. I would absolutely love to see Greene, in particular, come up next month, but I’m not going to hold my breath, either. That said I think Greene for sure, and likely Torkelson (if Triple-A goes well) will make an appearance next year.

Is there anything else we should know about the Tigers?

They’re really hot and cold and it’s almost impossible to know what version of the team you’re going to see. They have been red-hot with incredible high-scoring games, but they also love to give up those leads. Because of this, you can’t really predict if they’re going to be great, or terrible, and that is almost a superpower against opposing teams. You just never know, but whatever you get, it’s going to be a lot of fun, weird baseball.

Thank you, Ashley.