Riley Murdock ’15 – After stellar pitching performances and an offensive onslaught, the Detroit Tigers are off to a 8-1 start, going 6-0 for the first time since 1985. Coming off of back-to-back sweeps of the Minnesota Twins and the Cleveland Indians, as well as a series victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The ball club’s incredible season kickoff has instilled massive hype into the team’s fans.
Despite injuries to staff ace Justin Verlander and relief pitchers Bruce Rondon and Joe Nathan, Tigers pitching remains top-notch. The team has pitched to a 1.91 ERA, good for 1st in the MLB. Excellent outings by3 former Cy Young winner David Price are closely mirrored and even surpassed by pleasant surprise Shane Greene, acquired from the Yankees over the offseason. Greene tossed 8 scoreless innings in his first two starts. Alfredo Simon, another new pitcher, also tossed 8 scoreless in his last outing.
“I’m really satisfied with the way our new pitchers have turned out,” Kade Messner ‘17 said. “Shane Greene is killing it.”
While their pitching has been good, the Tigers offense has been an absolute juggernaut; from top to bottom, the lineup has been downright scary. In addition to surprising starts from a healthy Jose Iglesias and newcomer Anthony Gose, left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (acquired from the Red Sox for starter Rick Porcello) has made his presence known both in the outfield and behind the plate. Former MVP and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera has continued his tenure as the most feared bat in the league. Cabrera has been his usual self so far this season, hitting .432 with 2 home runs and 9 RBIs.
“They’re off to a hot start with their bats,” Thomas Schneider ‘15 said. “They need to have hot bats in order to succeed.”
Despite the excellent start, there are many unknowns moving forward for the Tigers. Verlander’s spot in the rotation is a question mark and replacement starter Kyle Lobstein is likely not yet ready for the majors. Top prospect and starting 3rd baseman Nick Castellanos is also off to a slow start, hitting .235 and failing to deliver on several crucial at-bats. The bullpen, as always, is also a constant source of anxiety, as very few relievers prove to be reliable. Even more worrying, the division rival Kansas City Royals are off to a 7-1 start, indicating that winning the Central title will not be a cakewalk.
“The starting pitching does a great job,” Spencer Rinke ‘15 said. “They’re going deep into games. The bullpen is always the problem, they have trouble holding onto leads.”
Despite several uncertainties, the positives outweigh the potential negatives. The Tigers have the pieces to make for an incredible season, and the city of Detroit hopes they continue to roll. That’s the thing about baseball, though–anything can happen at any time.
*Statistics current as of 4/16/15.
Image credit to juliewight.com
Sources: Mlb.com, Espn.com, Tigers.com