This is our series of deep dives on depth charts for each team in the MLB. I use the term ‘deep dive’ very loosely as I examine specific questions for each team because that will allow me to do as little research as possible. Thanks for reading, make sure to click on the ads or at least view them a handful of times
QUESTION: IS JUSTIN VERLANDER STILL AN ACE?
Justin Verlander had a very pedestrian three seasons from 2013-2015, at least by his standards. However, last year he posted over 250 strikeouts for the third time in his career. He also put up his best K:BB ratio ever at 4.46, so the only reason this question exists is because he’s 34.
For the Tigers to be in contention, he needs to be the same guy who would’ve won the Cy Young last year if Rick Porcello didn’t luck into about 83 wins. Porcello also costed me a Roto championship last year because he’s a lucky bitch. I’m not mad though. Anyways, with a lot of volatility after Verlander in this rotation, he’ll be leaned on to eat over 200 innings again. If he does what he did last year, the Tigers have an ace at the top of their rotation.
QUESTION: IS MIKIE MAHTOOK REALLY THIS TEAM’S CENTER FIELDER?
That’s how it’s framed right now on the Tigers website, and since I refuse to watch more spring training games than I need to that’s all I have to go on. It’s not like there’s an obvious candidate outside of Mikie, as Tyler Collins is the closest thing to a player that could replace him.
He’ll play a good center field, but other than that I hope the Tigers aren’t banking on much. Mahtook batted .195 last season and hasn’t even played a full year’s worth of games in two seasons. Probably because he’s bad.
QUESTION: ARE WE FINALLY GOING TO SEE THE NICK CASTELLANOS WE’VE BEEN EXPECTING?
I feel like I’ve been saying “Nick Castellanos is gonna do some stuff this year” for the last two offseasons. In reality, he’s accumulated average to below average offensive output for a starting third baseman in the American League. Last season he was on pace to have his best professional season until suffering an injury that only allowed him to play 110 games.
We started to see Castellanos come into his own last season. His .827 OPS was over .100 points higher than he’s had in his previous two seasons and his BABIP wasn’t off the charts, meaning luck didn’t play that much of a factor. We could easily see a 25 home run season from Castellanos and he might approach 100 RBIs considering the lineup he’s in.
QUESTION: IS THE BOTTOM HALF OF THE ROTATION GOOD ENOUGH TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?
Quite frankly, no, because I have no idea what to expect. Through his first couple months last year Jordan Zimmermann was pitching like a Cy Young candidate. Then he got hurt and wasn’t the same. In fact, he was one of the worst starters in the league at one point. As a third starter, not a bad option but also not something that screams “playoff rotation.”
As for the rest of the staff, who knows. Daniel Norris was not as good as his 3.38 ERA says he was last season. Matt Boyd was as good as his 4.53 ERA says he was last season. Detroit’s other rotation options are Mike Pelfrey (gross) or Anibal Sanchez (double gross). Needless to say, old man Verlander and young buck Michael Fulmer have their work cut out for them.
QUESTION: HOW MANY WINS?
If I nail one of these predictions someone has to give me a shoutout. Must credit Right in Your Wheelhouse. Is that how these things work?
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