Baseball is back! We think. Each day, SportsIntel’s Matt DeSaro will take a look at two of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball as we head toward MLB Opening Day in late July and we begin today in the AL Central with the Detroit Tigers.

The owners and players agreed in late June to stage a 60-game season, beginning July 24. There are still many hurdles to overcome in this COVID-19 landscape, but for now, the teams are gathering for “Summer Camp,” a Spring Training reboot crammed into three weeks.

MLB Opening Day – Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers | O/U 22.0 Wins | +100000 to win World Series

The Detroit Tigers continued their fall from relevance with a 47 win season in 2019.  To put that into perspective, the Dodgers are expected to win 38 wins this year with just a 60 game season to do it in.

The Tigers had the worst record last season in the majors and a gag-inducing 333 negative run differential.  This absolute mess of a season earned the Tigers their second number one draft pick in three seasons.

Ahead opening day, that doesn’t help them at all in the short term, and the Tigers are expected to be one of the worst teams in the MLB yet again this year.

As if things weren’t bad enough already, pitchers Jordan Zimmerman and Daniel Norris have been absent from camp so far.  Zimmerman is dealing with a forearm staring is on the 45-dar IL while Norris contracted COVID-19 and his availability is still up in the air.

Still, those two could play, have career-defining seasons and the Tigers would still suck.

Offseason Acquisitions:

C Austin Romine, 1B C.J. Cron, 2B Jonathan Schoop, OF Cameron Maybin, SP Ivan Nova

Offseason Losses:

N/A

What Do The Tigers Do Well?

This is one of the worst teams in baseball for a reason.  So don’t expect this section to be all that full.

The Tigers do have one thing going for them this year as we head quickly towards opening day, and that is young pitching.  While that might hurt them in the short term, this team has the possibility to have a Top-10 rotation in a few season’s time.

Casey Mize is currently the seventh-ranked prospect in baseball and was a former number one pick back in 2018.  In his two seasons in the minors, Mize is 8-4 with a 2.74 ERA and a K/9 rate of over nine.

Matt Manning, the 9th pick in 2016 and the 24th ranked prospect, has rushed through the Tigers farm system with a 22-17 record and 3.04 ERA in three seasons.  He is a big guy, at 6’6”, and throws hard with a fastball that touches the high 90s.

The surprise of the bunch might just be Tarik Skubal, who was drafted in the ninth round back in 2018.  Skubal, despite his humble draft number, has a 9-8 record with a 2.11 ERA and 212 strikeouts in just 145 innings. He is currently on the IL but could make his MLB debut later this year.

While this is all well and good, it really doesn’t help them much this year.  I see a world where all three guys get time in the bigs and that will be the best outcome this team can hope for in 2020.

Where Can They Improve?

Where can the Detroit Tigers improve ahead of opening day? Jeez, where do I begin?

I would say their biggest area of need is their offensive depth. They did a good job bringing in guys like C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop to help.  But those two guys merely scratch the surface of addressing this team’s needs,

The Tigers ranked dead last in runs per game and OPS last year and it would take more than one offensive player to have an MVP season to improve that by a lot in 2020.

Opening Day Tigers Season Prediction

This is a very bad team and in a 60 game season might not even see 20 wins.  At least they will possibly get their third #1 pick in the last four seasons, and boy will they need it.

With a lineup devoid of all power and a rotation that could be one of the messiest in baseball, I don’t see anything good in this team’s future and expect them to again compete for the worst team in the MLB.

Projected Starters:

C – Austin Romine

1B – C.J. Cron

2B – Jonathan Schoop

3B – Jeimer Candelario

SS – Niko Goodrum

LF – Victor Reyes

CF – JaCoby Jones

RF – Cameron Maybin

DH – Miguel Cabrera

Projected Rotation:

Matthew Boyd

Spencer Turnbull

Ivan Nova

Daniel Norris IL

Michael Fulmer IL

Closer:

Joe Jimenez