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Detroit Tigers 2020: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Detroit Tigers 2020: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Detroit Tigers 2020: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

An ugly 114-loss season in 2019, which followed on the heels of back-to-back 98-loss seasons in 2017 and 2018, would suggest that the Tigers’ grueling rebuild has hit a low point, from which the only way to go is up. But was that really the bottom? And has a corner been turned? At the very least, their front office’s piecemeal approach to the offseason, lack of impact moves and continued exploration of trades of top assets such as pitcher Matthew Boyd would suggest there is at least one more exceedingly painful season coming in 2020.

If there is hope for the Tigers, it is in the upper levels of a farm system seemingly on the verge of producing a wave of big league talent. But it’s unlikely to arrive in time to spare Tigers fans another unsightly season ahead.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Tigers

“Put it this way: If the game’s on the line, I can’t tell you there’s anybody I’m worried about throwing to. It’s ridiculous how far Miguel Cabrera has fallen, and how much they still owe him. Victor Reyes is interesting, and Niko Goodrum has value as a super-utility guy, but Jeimer Candelario is regressing, and I can’t see trusting him in an everyday role. It’s not much better on the mound. Matthew Boyd has figured out to pitch at the top of the strike zone, and he’s got some trade value, at least. They’re hoping Michael Fulmer comes back healthy, but Jordan Zimmermann doesn’t seem to have anything left. Spencer Turnbull will challenge you, but he needs to make better adjustments the second and third time through the order. Daniel Norris might be best as an opener. It’s a no-name bullpen that will struggle to hold the few leads they get. The best hope for Tigers fans is to follow Casey Mize in the minors and hope to see him in Detroit by midseason.”

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Beyond the Box Score

Greener Pastures With the Washington Nationals’ World Series title in 2019, five members of the Tigers’ 2014 starting rotation now have World Series rings: Justin Verlander (Astros, 2017), David Price (Red Sox, 2018), Rick Porcello (Red Sox, 2018), Max Scherzer (Nationals, 2019) and Anibal Sanchez (Nationals, 2019).

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2020 Athlon Sports Baseball Preview

Limping to the Finish The Tigers were arguably even worse than their record would indicate in 2019, if that’s even possible. They started the season 7-3 and were just 11 games under .500 at the end of May (22-33). But they went 25-81 (a .236 winning percentage) the rest of the way.

Glimmer of Hope One positive sign of what’s coming for the Tigers resided in Double-A Erie in 2019, where the SeaWolves went 77-61, the best overall record in the Eastern League’s Western Division. Right-handed pitcher Matt Manning was named the league’s Pitcher of the Year, and outfielder Jose Azocar its Rookie of the Year, while Casey Mize, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, threw a no-hitter in his Erie debut.

Promising Lefty The trades of outfielder Nicholas Castellanos and closer Shane Greene last summer netted the Tigers a total of four prospects, the best of which is probably 6'5" lefty Joey Wentz, who came from the Braves in the Greene trade. Wentz, 22, went 2-0 with a 2.10 ERA for Double-A Erie in five starts after the trade and is a candidate to make his big league debut in 2020.

Worst to First The Tigers’ MLB-worst record in 2019 earned them the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft, the second time in three years they will have that honor. In 2018, they took Mize with the top choice; he is now a candidate to join the Tigers’ rotation at some point in 2020.

Sore Spot It's difficult to get past the grim reality of DH Miguel Cabrera’s contract, which will pay him $124 million over the next four seasons. But the Tigers are trying to keep Cabrera healthy and productive by encouraging weight loss over the offseason to reduce the pressure on his troublesome knee.

Midseason Boost Pitcher Michael Fulmer, who missed all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery in March, is unlikely to be ready by Opening Day 2020 but could return by midseason, which would bring a boost to the Tigers’ rotation. Fulmer, the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year, went 21-19 with a 3.45 ERA over his first two seasons before an injury-filled 2018.

Projected Lineup

LINEUP

SS      Niko Goodrum (S)

RF     Victor Reyes (S)

DH     Miguel Cabrera (R)

1B     C.J. Cron (R)

2B     Jonathan Schoop (R)

LF     Christin Stewart (L)

3B     Jeimer Candelario (S)

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C       Austin Romine (R)

CF     JaCoby Jones (R)

BENCH

UT    Brandon Dixon (R)

INF   Dawel Lugo (R)

C      Grayson Greiner (R)

OF    Jorge Bonifacio (R)

ROTATION

LHP    Matthew Boyd

RHP    Ivan Nova

RHP    Jordan Zimmermann

RHP    Spencer Turnbull

LHP    Daniel Norris

BULLPEN

RHP    Joe Jimenez (C)

RHP    Buck Farmer

LHP    Gregory Soto

RHP    Jose Cisnero

RHP    Bryan Garcia

RHP    Rony Garcia

RHP   John Schreiber

LHP    Tyler Alexander

2020 Prediction: 5th in AL Central