Detroit Tigers Ready to Restore the Roar in 2024: Home Opener on April 5th

If this season’s first two road series against the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets are indicative of the type of team the Detroit Tigers will be in 2024, a Division Championship and making the Playoffs are not far-fetched.  After winning all three games from the White Sox to kick off the new season on March 28, the Tigers went to New York to face the Mets.  Detroit took the first game and, following two consecutive rainouts, split a doubleheader to give them a 5-1 record in the young season.

The Tigers will now play their Home Opener on Friday, April 5, at 1:10 p.m., in what is expected to be a heightened and festive atmosphere at Comerica Park.  Last season, the Tigers posted a  78-84 record and finished in second place, nine games behind the division-winning Minnesota Twins.  With a legitimate shot to do damage in the division this season, manager A.J. Hinch, GM Jeff Greenberg, and team president Scott Harris have fielded a team that they feel will roar loudly and track its way to a successful season.

Pitching is always the key to how far any MLB team can go, especially in a season that consists of 162 games, perhaps another 20 or so if there is a deep playoff run to include the World Series. Detroit’s starting pitchers include Tarik Skubal, Kenta Maeda, Jack Flaherty, Reese Olson, Matt Manning, and Casey Mize.  If there is a pitching ace in this group, it’s Skubal, the Opening Day pitcher in Chicago, where he picked up the 1 -0 win.

In the early going, the Tigers’ bullpen has given hope that it is deeper and stronger than many think. In the first four games, the bullpen posted a 0.53 ERA.  If the strong pitching continues from “the pen,” it will require the best from relief pitchers Alex Lange, Jason Foley, Andrew Chafin, Shelby Miller, Tyler Holton, Will Vest, Alex Faedo, and Joey Wentz.

In the infield, the core players this season include Spencer Torkelson (first base), Colt Keith (second base), Andy Ibanez (second/third base), Javier Baez (shortstop), and Gio Urshela (third base).  Many baseball pundits expect Torkelson to have another power-happy season after the big first basemen cranked out 31 home runs and batted in 94 runs – both team highs in 2023.   The team is hopeful that Baez can find the offensive game he once had while playing eight seasons for the Chicago Cubs.

In the outfield, Riley Green (left), Parker Meadows (center), and Mark Canha (right) are expected to be in the starting lineup on most game days and nights.  However, there is depth in the outfield with Matt Vierling and Zach McKinstry.  Both can play all outfield positions and several spots in the infield.

Canha was traded to the Tigers last November after playing for the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets.  Canha also played for the Oakland A’s from 2015 – 2021, where he belted 89 home runs and drove in 294 runs.  The Tigers would love to see the right-hand-hitting Canha  post the type of power numbers he enjoyed in Oakland.  Kerry Carpenter, who plays both right and left fields, will see much of his time as the DH.  The left-handed hitter smacked 20 homers and drove in 64 runs last season.  And it would be great to see Greene elevate his game – offensively and defensively – after undergoing Tommy John surgery last September.

Meadows had an excellent spring training, hitting .373 with three doubles, a triple, four homers, and six RBIs in 51 at-bats.  If Meadows’ spring numbers extrapolate for the entire 2024 season, they will go a long way toward helping this team become offensively dangerous, especially with runners in scoring positions.

Catcher Jake Rogers, a top-10 catcher last season defensively, will be behind the plate for much of the season.  He has home run pop, hitting 21 homers and posting 49 RBIs in 2023.  Carson Kelly will play behind Rogers.

While the Home Opening Weekend against the A’s will be exciting, the home stance will be short, as the Tigers hit the road again for two games against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday, April 8, and Tuesday, April 9.  The Tigers return to Comerica Park to play four games against last year’s AL Central Division champs, the Minnesota Twins (April 11 through the 14th), before hosting the 2023 World Series Champions Texas Rangers for four straight games beginning  Monday, April 15.

Hinch, now in his third season as the Tigers’ skipper after spending five seasons in Houston, where he led the Astros to the 2017 World Series title, believes this year’s Detroit team can win the AL Central title and advance to the playoffs.  And if the team gets into the playoffs, one never knows what can happen.

When the Tigers hired Hinch before the 2021 season, he boldly aimed some of his press conference words at other MLB players that could come true this season.

“If the Tigers’ organization does a good job, we’re going to re-establish ourselves as a winning franchise and develop a winning culture,” Hinch said.  “If you want to be a part of it, then come.  If you don’t, then we’ll beat you.”

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