By: Scott “The Gator” Anderson
In honor of Passover this weekend, I have 4 very important questions regarding our Tigers and how it impacts the season.
1. Will the rotation be as good as advertised?
Already the Tigers find themselves without Doug Fister for the next 15 days, Scherzer and Porcello have been inconsistent, and what do you really expect out of Drew Smyly? My guess is that Fister will be fine and the other veteran starters will be adequate, which is good enough with this lineup, and that Smyly will be up and down from the minors allowing other young starters opportunities.
2. Do the Tigers have enough to compete for a pennant?
Yes! As stated above, the rotation really just has to be adequate after Verlander and Fister because the lineup is sick with possibilities. Watching them chew up and spit out Josh Beckett is really eye poppingly fun. You won’t find many duos in baseball better than Lester and Beckett and the Tigers are now 2-0 against them. Health is always the key to success and nobody is better at keeping a team rested than Jim Leyland. The success of Cabrera at third base is so important because it gives them a ton of flexibility with other positions when they do rest guys.
3. Can they count on Valverde?
Absolutely! Just because he got roughed up in his first outing doesn’t mean that’s what we’re to expect the rest of the season. Last year he was PERFECT in save opportunities and HORRIFIC in non-save situations, and through it all, his numbers ended up being quite nice. The truth is that he won’t have as many save opportunities this season because the Tigers will score scads of runs, thus putting the game way out of reach by the time the ninth inning rolls around.
4. Who is the underrated key to the Tigers?
I think it’s Octavio Dotel. As a relief pitcher, he will be vital at times in shutting down hitters late. He gives the team another closer-like pitcher with the mentality and experience to boot, and yet he’ll be expected to help out in the 7th or possibly 8th innings. Think of how good the bullpen can be if and when Al Albuerquerque comes back too. Nobody is really focusing on the bullpen because of the questions about the starters, the bullpen allows for patience with potential struggles from the starters and confidence that a lead will not erode late in the game.