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Detroit Tigers: Predicting a new, hopeful 26-man roster for the 2023 season

Well, here we are again. The calendar is on April’s doorstep, the sun is shining, and Major League stadiums are being lined for Opening Day. The Detroit Tigers still have some decisions to make regarding their 26-man roster, with 38 players after their latest rounds of cuts. There are still some position battles to be decided and those are going to be worked through in the next few days. The Tigers open up in 2023 on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Why it matters:

The Tigers have had a serious makeover this offseason, though none of it was worth tagging it as “world-beating.” They created organizational depth, and though nothing too noteworthy occurred in Spring Training, they did create competition within the organization.

Some things we know:

  • Parker Meadows had a really impressive spring, along with Andre Lipcius and Colt Keith, though all were optioned back to the minors to start their season. It won’t be long until Meadows and Lipcius, and potentially Keith too, are back in Motown.
  • Much of the decision is the bullpen where they’ll need to fill some holes, especially with the horrendous spring by Will Vest.
  • Though Jonathan Schoop was left off our last Opening Day Lineup prediction, the odds of him making the team are much better now than when that was written. (They’re predictions, right?!)

The question becomes, where do the Tigers find 12 people to cut down their number?

Detroit Tigers Opening Day Alex Herrera Casey Mize Tarik Skubal Freddy Pacheco Jose Alvarez

Predicting the Detroit Tigers’ 26-man roster

First things first, by MLB rule the Tigers are only allowed to carry up to 13 pitchers on their active roster. Given the uncertainty of their rotation and the ever-present injury concern, they’ll utilize all 13 of those spots. Which by my history-teacher math means they have 13 players remaining to round out their roster. Here’s our prediction:

Starting Pitching (5):

  • Eduardo Rodriguez
  • Matthew Boyd
  • Matt Manning
  • Joey Wentz
  • Spencer Turnbull

With the injury to Michael Lorenzen, Wentz will slot in to take at least his initial turn through the rotation. Wentz showed some good things through the spring, even if some of his numbers look overly inflated. He did boast an 11.66 K/9 with an incredibly unlucky .421 BABIP. Rodriguez is the Opening Day starter for the second year in a row and he’ll be looking for an absolute rebound after a very shaky, and weird, 2022.

Relief Pitchers (8):

  • Jason Foley
  • Jose Cisnero
  • Alex Lange
  • Mason Englert*
  • Tyler Alexander
  • Miguel Diaz
  • Trey Wingenter
  • Chasen Shreve

Italicized players are currently not on the 40-man roster and a corresponding move will need to be made.
*Rule 5 draftee and must remain on the active roster for the season or be returned to their previous team.

Mason Englert was the Tigers’ Rule 5 draft pick this past offseason, and given his spring, there’s little reason to believe he won’t be staying around. The three non-roster invitees – Diaz, Wingenter, and Shreve – all pitched well enough to earn a spot. Diaz allowed only one the entire spring, Wingenter boasted a 14.14 K/9, and Shreve is a lefty that allowed only a .179 average against this spring. With Lorenzen and Tyler Nevin most likely starting on the Injured List, it opens spots for two of them, with the other roster move coming from one of the infielders.

Catchers (2):

  • Eric Haase
  • Jake Rogers

This isn’t even predictive, the decision has already been made. Seeing Jake Rogers mash baseball is a welcomed sight, which gives the team flexibility to get Hasse’s bat into the lineup as a left-fielder. Either way, the catching position will be more productive than in 2022.

Spencer Torkelson 1B

Infielders (5):

  • Spencer Torkelson, 1B
  • Jonathan Schoop, 2B
  • Javy Baez, SS
  • Nick Maton, 3B
  • Ryan Kreidler, UTL

One of the battles throughout Spring Training was Ryan Kreidler v. Zach Short. Here are their numbers and you tell me who should be heading north:

  • Ryan Kreidler: 52 AB, .308/.362/.462, 1 HR, 2 doubles, 7 RBI, 6 BB, 10 Ks, .341 BABIP
  • Zach Short: 42 AB, .209/.358/.371, 2 HR, 1 double, 2 RBI, 9 BB, 21 Ks, .350 BABIP.

It would be adding insult to injury, but since they’re nearly the identical player, with Kreidler being the better fielder and younger, Short’s 40-man roster could be used to house the third relief pitcher. Short’s had his chances and the time is up.

Outfielders (5):

  • Riley Greene
  • Austin Meadows
  • Matt Vierling
  • Akil Baddoo
  • Kerry Carpenter

The most intense position battle has been the one between Baddoo and Carpenter. And, it’s the one with the most impact on the team. Both offer different impacts on the game, though Carpenter does have the edge offensively. Since it is early in the season, and there is room on the roster with Nevin’s injury, there’s reason to believe that both could be in line for a trip north to start the season. Then, the cards will fall as the will for either one of them and a decision will be made.

Designated Hitter:

  • Miguel Cabrera

It’s Miggy’s final ride and we’re all along for it. He won’t take every at-bat in every game of every series, but he will at least play one game per series and will serve as the designated hitter, collecting more hits and gifts along the way.

The bottom line

The Tigers are heading into the 2023 season with very few exceptions. However, they competed during Spring Training and will surprise a few folks this season. Will they win the division? Most likely not and let’s not even speak of wild cards. But, will they be an improved team over the 2022 failure? This roster is already better and so will 2023.

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AJ Reilly
AJ Reilly
A.J. is a lifelong baseball fan and an avid storyteller. His debut novel, The Askren Boys, won the Literary Classics Gold Medal and Seal of Approval in November of 2018. When not writing, he is spending time with his wife Jessica, son Jack, daughter Nora, and new arrival Teddy. A.J. lives in Metro Detroit.

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