Story by Zoe Harmon, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Keith Allison
After a long 137 days, Detroit Tigers baseball is finally back. On February 18, the Tigers’ pitchers and catchers reported to their Spring Training facility in Lakeland, Florida. With a rough 2015 season behind them, staying healthy is the main topic when it comes to the pitching staff.
With their first workout on February 19, the pitchers and catcher began training four days before position players. This may seem like a mystery, but the reasoning behind the early arrival is simple. Typically, pitchers need 45 days to properly stretch their arms and prepare for a grueling 162-game season and of course, catchers are necessary. Position players don’t need as much time to prepare.
The Tigers’ pitchers and catchers decided to arrive even earlier than their scheduled reporting date, which was probably a good idea. Every Tigers fan knows that last year was brutal for both starting pitchers and the bullpen, who had 4.78 and 4.39 earned-run-averages (ERAs), respectively. However, as long as they stay healthy, the Tigers’ pitchers could turn their numbers around.
Much of the hope for a successful 2016 comes from Justin Verlander, whose ERA greatly improved towards the end of the 2015 season. After fully recovering from a set of injuries, both his fastball and curveball improved, bringing him closer to his true potential. With any luck, he will come out of the gate strong and secure wins early.
Another predicted success is Jordan Zimmerman who was signed as a free agent from Washington to fill the number two spot in the rotation. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a great 2015 season and he has had Tommy John surgery in the past, so time will tell if he will prove to be an asset.
Third in the Tigers’ predicted pitching rotation is Anibel Sanchez, who can’t do much worse than last season. With a 4.99 ERA and a 10-10 record, Sanchez is due for a rebound. If he stays healthy, he is bound to put up better numbers.
The last two positions of the rotation are filled with Daniel Norris and Mike Pelfrey. Norris is in his second season with the Tigers and is still unpredictable. With three pitches in his bag, Norris needs to have command to be on top. Pelfrey was signed by Detroit in December with some baggage. He has also had Tommy John surgery in the past and missed much of the 2014 season with various injuries. However, as long as he stays healthy, he could be a “good enough” addition to the bottom of the rotation.
It is pretty clear that ensuring injuries don’t happen will be the name of the game. Tigers pitchers and catchers will have to stay healthy to have any hopes for an improvement over their dreadful 2015 season. Nonetheless, one thing is certain, the Detroit Tigers’ unpredictability will be exciting to watch.
About the writer…
Zoe Harmon is in her final year at Aquinas College, majoring in Sports Management/Business Administration and minoring in Communication. Zoe is a member of the Sports Management Club where she serves on the board as Treasurer.She is also a Disney College Program Alumni after spending 7 months in Orlando. Zoe has a great passion for travel and health/fitness and in her free time, she enjoys hiking adventures, biking, and spending time with her friends and family.