I am sure many of you saw this article title and thought, “The Detroit Tigers…Quietest team in the MLB?” However, I can prove this to be an extremely realistic, and reasonable possibility. Not only that, but the Tigers have a Top 5-10 future in the MLB, with the current assembly of prospects lined up to be in the majors within the next 3 years and their current youth on the roster right now.
For starters, the Detroit Tigers started this season with a 9-24 record (8-19 in the month of April, followed by a 1-5 beginning to the month of May). After that start, the Tigers have rallied to a 36-45 record, meaning a 27-21 record since that start. That includes back-to-back overall winning record months for the Tigers, their first season with multiple winning months since 2016.
So what has led to the Detroit Tigers winning ways? Let’s take a look:
The Tigers bullpen has ranked 7th in the MLB in WAR since May 1, and rank 18th overall in bullpen WAR for the season, led by dominant Gregory Soto and Jose Cisnero. The two setup pitchers combined for 25.1 IP, 0.71 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, and 10 SO/9. Closing pitcher Michael Fulmer has struggled (4.50 ERA with 2 Saves in 4 IP) to stay healthy and has created a potential blessing in disguise for the Tigers.
After having an ERA in the 10’s for the season, Joe Jimenez has had an ERA of 2.70 since May 24th, and it appears he has finally established himself on the major league roster. Either way, the bullpen ERA on the season is still 27th in the MLB, at 5.07 (Soto is nearly at an ERA of 2.00, while Cisnero has a 2.86 ERA).
Mize and Skubal
Due to injuries to Matthew Boyd and Spencer Turnbull, the Tigers have been heavily depleted of starting pitching this season. However, Detroit’s 2 highest touted prospects, Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal have played like high-quality pitchers over the last month of the season. After struggling much of this season, Skubal found his way back into the rotation with the injuries and he has been dominant since. Overall, the Detroit rotation ranks 17th in ERA (4.20) with both rookies leading the way (Mize – 88.1 IP, 3.46 ERA, Skubal – 77.2 IP, 4.06 ERA) carrying the rotation.
Spencer Turnbull had a 2.88 ERA prior to his injury, while Matthew Boyd had an ERA in the mid-3’s before getting injured. If it wasn’t for Jose Urena’s near 50 ERA in the month of June. Overall, the Tigers have a home ERA of 3.96 on the season. Since May 1st, the rotation has an ERA of 4.27 (18th), while the bullpen’s ERA is 4.36 (17th). Over the month of June, the starting rotation had a 5.19 ERA (19th), and the bullpen had a 4.91 ERA (22nd). This leads to my next point, which is that the Tigers were actually able to play winning baseball because of their offense.
Improving, Yet Inconsistent Offense
In the month of June, Jonathan Schoop hit 10 of his 15 home runs on the season, while youngster Akil Baddoo was able to shoot his batting average up to nearly .285, which leads everyday Tigers players. Miguel Cabrera had a phenomenal month as well, putting up tremendous numbers at this stage of his career: .329 BA, .356 OBP, .494 SLG, .850 OPS, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 28 H, 5 2B, 15 R, 2 BB, 85 AB. These were just a few highlights for the Tigers this month offensively, who have hit their stride more often when it comes to providing run support and getting runs on the board.
The Future is Bright
After the Tigers recently called up former Top-10 draft pick and Starting Pitcher Matt Manning, the Tigers now have their top 3 pitching prospects in the majors, and they all have promising futures. Besides Mize, Skubal, and Manning, the Tigers have Spencer Turnbull and young prospect Alex Faedo who will get the call-up within the next 2 years if all goes well.
Offensively, the Tigers have Baddoo, Jeimer Candelario, prospects Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene, and recent call-up Daz Cameron and Isaac Paredes. There’s still room to improve for young 2B Willi Castro, who’s struggling this year after batting over .340 in the COVID-19 shortened MLB season. Catcher tandem Eric Haase and Jake Rogers offer intriguing power and fielding behind the plate, especially while last year’s 2nd round pick Dillon Dingler (Catcher, Ohio State) makes his way up through the minors.
There is always the potential the Tigers re-sign or even trade Jonathan Schoop, bringing in more prospects for their future. Not only that, but the Tigers have the 3rd pick in this year’s MLB Draft, which they are rumored to be looking at a SS with. Either way, there Tigers will add another strong prospect to their minor league system.
Photo: Kyusung Gong, AP