There might be nothing quicker than baseball’s offseason.
Yes, I know it takes months and moves one day at a time, but I feel like I just saw Hernan Perez ground into the season-ending double play yesterday. Yes, the double play that locked up the sweep for the Orioles in the ALDS. And yes, I am also sorry for bringing that memory back to you.
But let’s get back to the bright side here – baseball is back. The season is barely one percent finished, so we have plenty of time to dissect the Tigers like a sixth grade science project.
We will all share dozens of thoughts throughout the season, but let’s start off with the first four thoughts I have as they wander into another season with high hopes.
The starting pitching drop-off is a myth. Max Scherzer signing with Washington to get lottery-esque money had people poking and even punching the panic button.
“How will we be able to even breathe without our Cy Young pitcher?” the masses cried.
Here’s how – rejoice that David Price is essentially taking his place.
Scherzer only went to the eighth inning six times all last season. David Price went into the eighth seven times just in the last two months of the 2014 season and 13 times all season long. With the Tigers bullpen once again being a looming question mark, I’ll take the guy that gives the bullpen just three outs instead of nine any day of the week.
The injury bug will be the most important player. He doesn’t wear a jersey, but that nagging injury bug seems to be spending a lot of time in the dugout.
You look at Detroit’s roster, and you can’t help to smile and think “gee, how could this team not win another division title?” Then you look at the list of players with recent injury issues: Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Justin Verlander, Jose Iglesias, Anibal Sanchez and Alex Avila. Feel free to add yourself to that list if you felt a pain in your chest while reading that.
Ideally every team wants to stay healthy, but if two of those names disappear from the roster at the same time it could spell trouble.
Brad Ausmus’s seat should be a little toasty. Making playoffs last season isn’t good enough to make his first managerial season a raging success. Paws the mascot could have brought that roster to a postseason.
Last season’s handling of the bullpen was rocky, at best. Sure, he didn’t have Mariano Rivera, Dennis Eckersly and 2006 Joe Nathan as options, but the closing situation was a mess all year. Nathan can’t be blowing six saves until another option is tried like last season.
Alright, I’ll throw out my prediction. Follow me on Twitter, and you’ll see how pessimistic I can get about this team on any given night. However, with my rational thinking cap on, I actually do see this team grabbing another AL Central title. It’s not going to be easy as the AL Central will be one of the best races to watch, aside from the AL West and NL Central.
Cleveland is getting plenty of hype, but I see the Chicago White Sox giving the Tigers a better run for their money. It’s hard to look at Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija on the mound and not quiver a little bit.
So, here is the order in which the AL Central will play out in my head – Tigers, White Sox, Royals, Cleveland and Twins (sorry, Minnesota).
Enjoy the season, folks.
Contact Matt Sheehan at (810)-989-6267 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s on Twitter @Sheehan_Sports.