It’s a new season in TigerLand, and a glaring question is shining bright in the eyes of Tiger fans everywhere.
No, it’s not what below-average AA infielder will get 600 at-bats and hit below the Mendoza line in the majors this year at third.
It’s who will open the season for the Tigers.
Pitchers and catchers reported today, and to the shock of pretty much nobody, a post came out about Eduardo Rodriguez not showing up. After speculation, the post was deemed false.
Rodriguez is competing in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, and with a risk of injury or poor spring training play, the Tigers could turn to an alternative arm from lower in the rotation to give the ball to on Opening Day.
With that in mind, Detroit will have to get creative with the Opening Day hurler if Rodriguez doesn’t play well or gets injured. Here are some options for Detroit if Rodriguez is not fit to start.
Turnbull is my first choice. A solid righty with filthy stuff. Unfortunately, he hasn’t pitched since the summer of 2021, when he suffered a Torn UCL and needed Tommy John Surgery. He is back and ready to pitch for the Tigers in 2023, barring any setbacks. Turnbull had a 2.88 ERA in 9 starts in 2021 before his injury. Everyone, including Spence, should be hoping he regains the magic that he had when he twirled his No Hitter against Seattle in the spring of ‘21. He has a 99% chance of being in the rotation this year if he can stay off the IL and enter the season with good momentum.
Our old friend is back! Boyd returned to Motown on a one-year, $10M contract this offseason. Unfortunately, he is a shell of his former self. Boyd hasn’t started a game since he played in The Motor City, and he was decent out of the bullpen with Seattle last year. Boyd has only had an ERA under 4.00 once (not counting last season), and he was extremely inconsistent. He will help ticket sales early in the year since he was a fan favorite, but if the Tigers are somehow hanging onto hope of contention in September and October, he isn’t the guy who you would want to lead the charge. An average starter on a below-average team isn’t the recipe for excitement in The Motor City.
A Dark Horse Candidate: Joey Wentz
People might call me crazy for this one, but I’ll take the criticism with pride. I love Wentz. I think he is the best young pitcher the Tigers have at their disposal. Joey went 2-2 with a 3.03 ERA in 2022. Not bad at all. Nobody even talks about the guy. He has shown more promise than the unreliable Casey Mize, the injury-prone Alex Faedo, and don’t even get me started with the Franklin Perez hopefuls. Joey will likely have a bullpen spot to start the year, which is a tragedy because he pitched so damn well last year. I hope that he gets the credit that he deserves if he gets a shot this year. While he’ll probably not even make the rotation this year because of the pitching depth, it’s fun to think about the possibilities. I’m happy that more people will see that Joey is a very good pitcher with a lot of potential. I can’t wait for him to show everyone what he has.
Honorable mentions include Michael Lorenzen, Matt Manning and Rony Garcia.