Series Preview: Tigers open 2017 season in the Windy City

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MLB: Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers
Sep 27, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

DETROIT TIGERS (86-75 in 2016) vs.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX (78-84 in 2016)


Game 1 – Justin Verlander vs. Jose Quintana
Monday, April 3 @ 4:10 p.m. ET

Verlander makes his ninth career start on Opening Day. He is healthy and ready to rock in 2017. The Tigers ace did not have a great start last season with a 5.46 ERA in April, and over his career, it’s been the highest career ERA (3.95) of any month for the former Cy Young and MVP.

For Chicago, Jose Quintana makes his first ever start on Opening Day. Quintana had a terrific season in 2016 for the White Sox (3.20 ERA) where he was selected as an All-Star. His name has been buzzing all offseason regarding trade rumors and should continue as the season plays out.

Game 2 – Jordan Zimmermann vs. James Shields
Wednesday, April 5 @ 2:10 p.m. ET

Jordan Zimmermann was the best starter for the Tigers last season… in the first month. Undefeated in April, Zimmermann cruised to a 5-0 record to start the season with an ERA well under 1.00. Unfortunately, injuries and inconsistencies plagued the rest of his first year in the Motor City.

Zimmermann and the Tigers face James Shields who is looking to rebound from a disappointing 2016 campaign. Detroit knocked around the veteran Shields a lot last season, a 6.55 ERA in four starts vs. the Tigers last season.

Game 3 – Thursday, April 6: Daniel Norris vs. Derek Holland
Thursday, April 6 @ 2:10 p.m. ET

After opening the 2017 season with seasoned veterans on the mound, the Tigers will turn to the youthful part of the rotation. First up will be Daniel Norris. The 23-year-old southpaw has beaten cancer this offseason and is ready for a breakout year.

He will face oppose a fellow lefty in Derek Holland, who will make his first career start with a team not named the Rangers, after making 158 starts over eight seasons in Texas.

PREDICTION

Assuming that Zimmermann starts hot again this season, the Tigers have a significant pitching match-up in the first two games. Even though they may play this series without J.D. Martinez and possibly Miguel Cabrera, I still see Detroit playing well enough to win the series.

Look for the Tigers to rely on pitching and defense to get them two wins over the first three games before Opening Day at Comerica park on Friday.