Baseball is back! The Detroit Tigers begin this season on the road at Miami before coming home on Friday. After a futile season where the Tigers finished in last place in the A.L. Central (74-87), there were questions surrounding the team, from the players and managers to the front office itself. Let's take a look at three questions that we were asking during the offseason.
1. Is Brad Ausmus on the hot seat?
Brad Ausmus will be entering his third season as manager of the Detroit Tigers, posting a 164-159 record with the team. In late September last season, there was a report that Ausmus was going to be relieved of his duties as manager, where newly appointed GM Al Avila dismissed. Coming off a dismal season last year, it's safe to say that Ausmus should and will be on the hot seat all season long. Should this team falter from their expectations early on, then I will be surprised if Brad Ausmus remains as manager of the Detroit Tigers.
2. Can Verlander return to form?
Justin Verlander has been often referred to as the Tigers ace, even when the team had David Price and Max Scherzer in the starting rotation. Last season he started off sluggish, while recovering from an injury. The last couple of starts near the end of the season, posting near 3.00 ERA and winning 4 out of his last 7 starts. If this Justin Verlander pitches for the Tigers AND he can stay healthy all season long, then i can see Verlander posting a 2.00-3.00 ERA range
3. Will Justin Upton and Jordan Zimmerman gel with the Tigers?
The two biggest newcomers to the Tigers are former Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmerman, and former Braves and Padres outfielder Justin Upton. Zimmerman comes to the Tigers after posting a 3.66 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP, and 3.4 WAR, with 164 strikeouts to his name. Upton comes to the team after an average season in San Diego, posting a .251 average, with 81 RBIs and 136 hits. Upton will help the Tigers outfield, but I'm not sure how Zimmerman will transition from the National League, where pitchers need to hit, to the American League, where the designated hitter takes the pitchers place. I think he will gel with the starting rotation in the 2 or 3 slot.
Predictions: The Tigers are in a tough division, with defending World Series champs Kansas City, a resurgent Minnesota Twins and an interesting Cleveland Indians pitching rotation. I think they will have a better season than last year, with the major moves in the offseason that they made. My predictions are the Detroit Tigers will go 87-75, and go to the Wild Card game against the Seattle Mariners, who I think will contend for the AL West.