Playing Pepper 2020: Detroit Tigers

If we’re closing in on the regular season, that must mean it’s time to play some pepper!  For the 12th year in a row, I’ve contacted bloggers and writers from around baseball to talk about the team they hold dear.  It’s a good way for folks to get the pulse of other teams around MLB and see what other fanbases are talking about.  It’s a tradition unlike any other (because who would want to copy it): it’s time for Playing Pepper.

Detroit Tigers
47-114, fifth in AL Central
Website | Twitter
Last year’s Pepper

Detroit hasn’t reached the 70 win mark in three seasons.  Their 114 losses last year would have been an all-time worst for many teams, but it’s not even the worst mark of the century for the Tigers, who lost 119 in 2003.  It’s hard to believe this team has been in the World Series twice (2006, 2012) and was a couple of wins from making two other appearances.  It’s definitely a roller-coaster ride for the Detroit faithful.  Are they on the way back up?  Let’s see!

Blogger Site Twitter
Roger Martin Motor City Bengals rogcast81
Trevor Hooth Bless You Boys HoothTrevor

C70: 2019 was a rough year for the Tigers, but every year has its redeeming qualities. What was the positive you saw in the last season?

Roger: Well, the positives were the improvement of Daniel Norris. He finally was able to put together a decent season and the rotation as a whole with Spencer Turnbull despite his record, pitched well and of course, Matthew Boyd. Buck Farmer had a strong 2019 out of the pen considering the revolving door that was the bullpen last year that he and Jimenez showed some progress.

Trevor: It’s tough to go through several seasons in a row like that. At the MLB level there was very little to take away that was positive, if anything. However, the massive rise in stock for Tarik Skubal was awesome. That was the biggest positive of the season in my opinion. Detroit needs an influx of talent soon, and they have arms-a-plenty, the addition of Skubal atop that list makes it even better. Another thing to take away is that there is an influx of some bats to be excited about. Isaac Parades had his stock go up and Riley Greene looks solid too.

C70: What move from this offseason do you think will work out best for the Tigers?

Roger: The signings of C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop. They add some much needed power to the left side of the infield. Both provide a solid veteran presence.

Trevor: There are very few to talk about, but I have some thoughts. CJ Cron was a great pickup for obvious reasons. I think, however, that Eric Haase will wind up bringing the most to the team. In theory the future catching plan is still Jake Rogers with Grayson Greiner performing backup duties, but Rogers came up too soon last year. Haase has some pop in his bat and allows Rogers to get the seasoning he needs to reach an offensive ceiling. His defense is pretty obviously there, his arm at least.

C70: There’s been a lot of trade rumor talk around Matthew Boyd. Do you think Detroit would actually move him and, if so, what would you think the Tigers would receive in return?

Roger: I think if Boyd gets off to a hot start, he could be moved but honestly, management and fans love Boyd. He does so much for the community and starting his non profit to help protect at risk children. The charity aims to end child sex slavery through prevention by providing a home and opportunity for those who are at risk. If he gets moved, I hope Avila can get at least a top 20 prospect and a few prospects with high upside.

Trevor: I’m a little surprised he’s not already gone, but that might have to do with a high price tag from the Tigers. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he is dealt. Here’s the thing though, with every passing day his value will decrease. So this offseason the rumor was Brandon Marsh (before he got hurt), but come deadline time it’s doubtful the price is still that high. It might be since he’s under team control until 2022, when he turns 31. With the proximity of Casey Mize, Matt Manning, and Tarik Skubal, a comeback year from Mike Fulmer and Daniel Norris could give the Tigers even more reason to look for a deal. It’s still not as if one is imminent, but I could totally see it. Hopefully some decent hitting prospects come back in the trade.

C70: What are your expectations for 2020? Where do you think they’ll finish in the division?

Roger: I predict a 4th place finish, winning 66 games or so. I expect a small step but until they get some more hitting prospects, some ways to go.

Trevor: Very low expectations and they will be duking it out with the Royals in the cellar of the AL Central. To the team’s credit, Cron and Jonathan Schoop improve the team exponentially, but it’s just not enough. So, yeah, still cellar dwelling with a chance to not end up last in the division.

C70: What’s the main topic Tiger fans are discussing that maybe isn’t obvious to other teams?

Roger: The battle for third base between Jeimer Canderlio and Dawul Lugo and the dark horse candidate, prospect Issac Parades.

Trevor: That depends on the faction of fan. Some are dead set that the big wigs in charge, from the top down, need to change. The heftier majority are just finding excitement in the fact there is some decent talent in the farm system. Clinging to hope, in a way. Some other narratives come into play, but those are the big two. Add that into what is going to happen with the first overall pick and that’s a healthy trinity. One conversation piece I’m trying to push is the comeback narrative for Fulmer and Norris because that has me excited.

C70: What are you looking forward to most about the coming season?

Roger: Seeing all the young pitching talent to come up at some point during the season like Matt Manning, Casey Mize and Alex Fadeo.

Trevor: Fulmer and Norris as I said. Fulmer is, hopefully, going to be healthy at one point. Norris, though, just needs to stay healthy. He was a fireballer before a groin injury, and following the injury arc of previous pitchers with a similar injury shows that this is (theoretically) the year his velo comes back. He’s been decent without it, but the return of velocity could be huge and I’m VERY excited to see how it plays out. The prospects are exciting too. I have to shout out my favorite prospect in all the minors entering the 2020 season, Bryant Packard.

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