Unless you've never read one of my articles, or live under a rock you know that I'm a die-hard Tigers fan. Times are looking tough for Detroit after going .500 for over half the season. After sliding from 19-19 to 20-26 we begin to realize the harsh reality of our postseason hopes coming to an end and prepare for next season. With a few emerging stars in the lineup, I expect the Tiger's to follow the same suite as this year, and maybe finish around 75 wins. However, the Tiger's have a very strong farm system to go along with these guys. In today's article, I'm going to predict the tiger's roster four or five years into the future. I see the Tigers begin to go after some top FAs in 2022 and 2023, and I do see them ultimately winning the World Series in 2024. Call it a hot take, but this article may prove to be accurate and it would happen, or I'm totally off.
*Stats accurate as of 9/15
With a top farm system in the MLB, the tiger's have a lot of positions covered despite having a steep drop off past their #12 or so prospect. With five of their top 12 prospects being pitchers, I can predict at least three of our five starters certainly.
Record prediction: 90-72
758 runs, 711 runs against
Starting rotation prediction:
Casey Mize (RHP)
Matt Manning (RHP)
Tarik Skubal (LHP)
Alex Faedo (RHP)
Joey Wentz (LHP)/ Franklin Perez (RHP)
Starting with our ace, and future we have Casey Mize. Mize has a wide arsenal of five pitches, consisting of a fastball, sinker, slider, curveball, and the nastiest splitter in the MLB already. Despite having a lackluster season this year, he's shown a lot of promise in his latest start where he threw five no-hit innings etching five strikeouts. He's also got a great secondary pitch in his fastball, which ranges from 92-96 mph. Overall, once Casey develops more in the major leagues, we could see a lot of improvement from him.
Matt Manning is another guy in our rotation I see being a great pitcher. A tall, athletic, and broad pitcher is fit for the modern-day MLB, Manning checks off all boxes. In the minors, he's had an up-and-down career, boasting a 2.56 ERA one year, but having a 4.22 ERA the previous year. However, in all seasons where Matt has played nine or more games, he's got a career ERA of 2.96. In his last season, Manning went 11-5 with a 2.56 ERA, a 9.97 k/BB, a 46.8 GB%, and only allowed seven HR. He's got an arsenal of a fastball, curveball, and a changeup. His fastball sits in the mid-to-low 90s and has good movement on it.
In the middle of the rotation, I see Tarik Skubal. Skubal is everything you want out of your third guy in the rotation. He's the perfect third guy for the Tiger's, consisting of three above-average pitches, his fastball, curveball, and slider. This season, Skubal has gotten off to a slow start, going 1-3 with a 6.17 ERA. He does have a decent K/9, but a not so good BB/9 and HR/9. Skubal will hopefully get better over time, and by the time when the Tigers begin to contend he will be alright.
Fourth in the rotation, I believe Alex Faedo will pitch. He was selected 18th overall in 2017, and has done well, but not great. He's got a 3.90 ERA in 46 games in the minors but has only given up 35 home runs. The slider has always been the dominant out pitch in Faedo’s arsenal, with enough late movement to draw swings and misses or soft contact. His fastball has also evolved, averaging around 94 mph. I don't think Faedo will be an elite force in our rotation, but I do think he'll get the job done.
Pitching fifth, I think we'll see a combination of Joey Wentz, or Franklin Perez depending on how fast they recover from their injuries, and how fast they progress in the minors. Perez and Wentz were both received in trades. We got Wentz last year in the trade with Shane Greene, and we got Perez in the trade with Houston dealing away Justin Verlander. Perez has had extremely slow progression in the minors, but we'll see him in the majors within a year I'd say. Wentz on the other hand might come up later since his injury is worse, and he hasn't had nearly as much experience as Perez.
Projected starting lineup:
#1: Willi Castro (2B)
#2: Francisco Lindor (SS)
#3: Spencer Torkelson (1B)
#4: Jeimer Candelario (3B)
#5: Isaac Paredes (DH)
#6: Victor Reyes (LF)
#7: Marcell Ozuna/Riley Greene (RF)
#8: Jake Rogers (C)
#9: JaCoby Jones (CF)
Starting with our first hitter, I predict Willi Castro will hit there. He's a guy with a great combination of power, and contact, hitting .337 in 86 AB with 29 hits and 4 home runs. In 2024, when I predict they will contend, Will will be 26 years old, so we can hope to see him post a .300+ BA with around 14 home runs. If Willi continues this hot streak for his career the Tigers will be in business before our top prospects come up.
Batting second, it may come as a surprise, but I think the Tiger's will go after Lindor in 2022. Lindor is only 26 right now, and will still make a big impact on the roster. Lindor is a phenomenal hitter, fielder, and can get the job done anywhere. I think we go after Lindor because it seems like Willi Castro is a defensive liability at shortstop which simply can't be the case when you're the starting SS on a contending team. Lindor is a 4x All-Star, a 2x Gold Glove, a 2x Silver Slugger, and a 1x Platinum Glove. Lindor is the experienced star the Tigers need during this run and Lindor checks all boxes.
Hitting cleanup, I think there is no other option besides the first overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, Spencer Torkelson. Torkelson last season in college ball hit an outstanding .340 with 17 hits and six home runs in just 82 plate appearances. In 31 of those appearances, he was either intentionally walked, or walked and only struck out 15 times meaning he had a 2:1 BB/SO ratio. If he were somehow able to continue that into the majors that would be an incredible feat that we haven't seen in a long, long time. Torkelson has got the power to hit third and can make contact advancing runners. If all works out for Torkelson, we could expect a .300+ BA with 30+ home runs for many seasons.
Hitting fourth, I see Jeimer Candelario hitting. The candy man has had a breakout season this season, slashing .325/.385/.571. Previous to this season, there were doubts if Candelario would ever play in the MLB again after a left-hand injury that lead him to hit .203 last year and finish the year with Toledo. Jeimer is 26 years old, but if he continues playing this way for the upcoming seasons he will make an impact. Although I also do see Jeimer not being here, next season will determine that. If he plays good, we give him the contract he wants when he enters arbitration in 2021, and if he doesn't we give him an offer and if he declines we would most likely part ways.
Hitting fifth, I would hopefully see Isaac Paredes here. Despite having a poor season this year in his rookie year, he does have the talent to play good ball. A standard fielder in the field doesn't bode well for his chances either, but I'm hopeful that we see him. His natural position is 2B, but with what I said earlier I don't think he should play in the field, however, unlike a lot of guys in the Tiger's organization, I don't know enough about Isaac to make an accurate prediction.
Hitting sixth we have another breakout player, Victor Reyes. In his third MLB season, Reyes' flourishes again hitting .301 with an OPS of .781. The Tiger's selected him in the 2018 Rule 5 Draft and has been producing for them since 2019. Despite his doubts in 2018, when management wasn't sure what to do with him considering he was a Rule 5 selection, we made the gutsy call to keep him in the MLB, and it has spread up our rebuild. Similar to Jeimer, he enters arbitration before 2024, so I believe we will send him an offer, and if he declines he'll walk, especially since we have a top prospect at corner outfield.
Hitting seventh, I think we have two options. One option would be signing Marcell Ozuna in this next offseason, or sign him later depending on his contract, or call up our fifth-ranked prospect, Riley Greene. Ozuna is the kind of guy the Tigers typically go after, just think back. In 2014 we signed J.D Martinez, in 2012 we signed Torii Hunter, and in 2006 we signed Magglio Ordóñez. One common pattern among these guys is that they were all solidified right fielders that can hit the ball well, and 2 of the 3 were well past their prime but helped the Tigers go to the WS. The Avila's and Ilitch' have been part of the tigers for a while, so we could expect them to bring Ozuna in unless they feel that Greene is ready.
Hitting eighth I think that the Tigers' 12th ranked prospect, defensive specialist, Jake Rogers will start. Despite not getting any MLB time this season in 2020, he's got experience catching for all of our future starting pitchers, and can catch them all. Offensively, Rogers won't get much done. I predict he'll be a .220 hitter with 12 home runs maximum. However, defensively Rogers has a lot to offer. In AA he leads the league in CS. Last year, Roger's got the experience of playing 34 MLB games and displayed exactly what I said before. He slashed .125/.222/.259. He also had 7 CS with 14 hits and four home runs. If Roger's can put together a decent season hitting-wise, he'll be the catcher of the future.
Hitting last, but certainly, not least I think we see CF, JaCoby Jones here. As I've said previously, I believe JaCoby is in a similar situation as Jeimer Candelario and Victor Reyes. He's arbitration-eligible in 2021, and I think they will give him the contract he wants. JaCoby had that breakout season this year that he's been destined to have. He slashed .268/.333/.518 over the course of 30 games, before being hit by a pitch that ended up breaking his wrist. The only concern about Jones would be how injury-prone he is. He's only played 316 games in 5 seasons.
Projected 4-man bench:
BE: Daz Cameron (OF)
BE: Harold Castro (UTIL)
BE: Niko Goodrum (UTIL)
BE: Eric Haase/Dillon Dingler (C)
I won't go into detail about my predicted 4-man bench, but I see Niko staying with the organization because he's not gonna be in high demand after this season. Harold is another guy that I think the Tigers won't want to give up after hitting .291 in 2019 and starting this year hot. He's arbitration-eligible in 2023, so there is no reason why he shouldn't be here in 2024 and the future. And finally, being our backup catcher I see either Eric Haase or Dillon Dingler being there. Haase would most likely be there if he is still with Detroit, but if not we could call up our #8 prospect, Dillon Dingler.
Daniel Norris (LHP)
Daniel Norris is our best reliever in the MLB today. He's posted a 3.47 ERA, going 3-1 as a reliever, and a starter but has experienced much more success as a reliever. We typically see Norris pitch every fifth day, pitching 2-3 innings after Michael Fulmer's 2-3 innings in which he will give up 6 hits and 4 runs. Norris will usually pitch well, and has had multiple scoreless outings. He's only allowed 9 runs in 23.1 innings and has only given up two home runs. Norris will hopefully be a reliever for us in the future if he keeps up the good work.
John Schreiber (RHP)
Gregory Soto (RHP)
Beau Burrows (RHP)
Every team can't have a great bullpen, which I think will be the case for the three pitchers above. After Soto and Schreiber had magnificent starts to the seasons. However, they have both fallen off greatly. Soto is still having a decent year but isn't the reliable flame-thrower that we'd thought he'd be. Schreiber hasn't gotten back on track ever since his relief appearance against Cleveland, where he gave up two or three runs in 0.1 IP. Hopefully, Schreiber will get back on track, but I'm not so sure about that happening, unfortunately.
Will Smith (RHP)
Our only bullpen acquisition I see is Will Smith. I think we bring in Will Smith, who will be around 34 years old at the time to be a reliable option in the bullpen if all works out. He's got the postseason experience and has been a reliable option throughout his career. He becomes a FA in 2023, which is when I think we pick him up o a 2/3 year deal.
Bryan Garcia (RHP)
And to cap everything off, I believe that Bryan Garcia will be our closer. Detroit Tigers manager, Ron Gardenhire has expressed his positive thoughts on Garcia, and how he should be our closer for the future. He's got a 1.47 ERA but has only pitched 18.1 innings this year. I think if he keeps this up, he will receive any offer when he's arbitration-eligible in 2023, but if not we might let him walk, and pick up a big-name, superstar reliever.
Thanks for reading, and leave a comment down below! And everyone needs to remember, that I, Gabe Feldman called us winning in 2024!