Section 313, Seat No. 20: Projecting the Detroit Tigers lineups, rotation

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We currently sit just over 24-hours away from the first pitch being thrown on the 2018 Detroit Tigers season. A season that will be filled with plenty of memories created for families around the ballpark as we watch our team struggle through the first year of a rebuild. Sure the names and faces on the roster may not be familiar, or as familiar as they have been in the past, but they still wear the old English D, and that’s good enough to call them our own.

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While things aren’t completely finalized yet on the roster front, they may as well be. The Tigers will head north from Lakeland, Florida with 25 guys ready to compete every day for a spot on the field. As of now, they will be carrying 13 position players and 12 pitchers. Here’s the breakdown:

Position Players – 

The Tigers have decided to keep 13 position players, which isn’t that abnormal. However, their keeping of five outfielders is a bit curious. The name of the game is youth this season and we’re sure going to see a lot of it.

Player Position
James McCann Catcher
John Hicks Catcher / 1B / DH
Miguel Cabrera 1B / DH
Dixon Machado 2B / SS
Jose Iglesias SS
Jeimer Candelario 3B
Niko Goodrum Utility Infielder
Vicor Martinez DH / 1B
Nicholas Castellanos OF
Leonys Martin OF
Victor Reyes OF
Jacoby Jones OF / emergency Infielder
Mikie Mahtook OF


James McCann– McCann is starting his fourth full season for the Detroit club. His defense has never been in question, but his offense has been lacking. Last year he slashed .253/.318/.415 setting career highs with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs. He’s a career 3.3 WAR player, and if he hits could be a trade target at the July deadline.

Miguel Cabrera– Cabrera is coming off of an injury-plagued season in which he posted the worst numbers of his career. With plenty of off-field distractions, it’s easy to see how he succumbed to mediocrity in 2017. Look for Miggy to bounce back, as he’s slimmed down significantly this season, making a Comeback Player of the Year award a very real possibility.

Victor Reyes– Reyes was the Tigers Rule-5 Draft pick this past season, which means he must remain on the 25-man roster for the year or be sent back to the Diamondbacks. While he’s never seen action above Double-A — he did hit .292/.332/.399 last season. Al Avila seems to really like what he’s seen from Reyes this spring, and it doesn’t seem like he’ll be heading back to the desert anytime soon. It does create a logjam in the outfield, however, so finding at-bats for Reyes and Jacoby Jones could be tricky.

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Projected Lineups – 

vs. RHP vs. LHP
Leonys Martin – CF Mikie Mahtook – LF
Jeimer Candelario – 3B Jeimer Candelario – 3B
Miguel Cabrera – 1B Miguel Cabrera – 1B
Nicholas Castellanos – RF Nicholas Castellanos – 3B
Victor Martinez – DH Victor Martinez – DH
James McCann – C James McCann – C
Dixon Machado – 2B Dixon Machado – 2B
Mikie Mahtook – LF Jacoby Jones – CF
Jose Iglesias – SS Jose Iglesias – SS


Pitching Staff – 

Part of the reason why everyone is so down on the Detroit Tigers for 2018 is due to the pitching staff. With Michael Fulmer, you know what you have — a bona fide ace. However, beyond that, everyone is a wild card — which may work sitting around a poker table, but not Major League Baseball. Here are the 12 pitchers that have made the roster.

Player Position
Jordan Zimmermann SP
Michael Fulmer SP
Francisco Liriano SP
Daniel Norris SP
Matthew Boyd SP
Buck Farmer RP
Drew VerHagen RP
Warwick Saupold RP
Alex Wilson RP
Daniel Stumpf RP
Joe Jimenez RP
Shane Greene CP


Jordan Zimmermann– There is no denying the fact that Zimmermann may be the worst free agent signing the Tigers have made in the last few years. The imbalance of dollars owed to production on the field has been overwhelming, with Zimmermann posting a 6.08 ERA last season. However, being a 21.2 WAR player with a 3.76 ERA for his career means that he could bounce back.

Daniel Norris– The main get for David Price back in 2015 has been anything but the top prize we were hoping. While he’s been decent, the oft-injured flamethrower has yet to put together a complete season in a Tigers uniform and truly stabilize himself as a guy to be counted on. The truth is having thrown 101.2 innings — the most of his career — in 2017 until Norris can pull through an entire season, he will continue to be the most volatile wild card the Tigers hold in their hand.

Shane Greene– Having assumed the role of the closer after the trade of Justin Wilson, Greene has performed well in that spot. With nasty stuff, the only issue the Tigers will have from Greene will be getting him enough opportunities to become valuable for the July trade deadline.

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Starting Rotation – 

  1. Jordan Zimmermann
  2. Michael Fulmer
  3. Francisco Liriano
  4. Matthew Boyd
  5. Daniel Norris

Relief Corps

Player Role
Buck Farmer Long Relief
Drew VerHagen Middle Relief
Warwick Saupold Middle Relief
Daniel Stumpf Middle Relief/Lefty Specialist
Alex Wilson Set-up
Joe Jimenez* Middle Relief/Set-up/Closer
Shane Greene Closer

*Jimenez is the closer of the future and if A. Wilson cannot perform he will start setting-up and then become the closer when Greene is traded.