A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE TIGERS
Their whole season is predicated on their starting pitching, hoping those guys go seven or eight innings and get the ball to Joakim Soria, then to Joe Nathan. That's how they're going to live.... I don't think they're going to miss Max Scherzer, because they have David Price.... Anibal Sanchez looks great. Right out of the box, he's got all of his pitches, he's throwing strikes.... Shane Greene is going to be a nice major league pitcher. He's got a good delivery. He throws a lot of strikes, and he can really manipulate his fastball. He's got a good sinker.... The key is Justin Verlander. They're really counting on him to make a big comeback.... Their weakness is their bullpen. Nathan is real hittable right now. You lose your fastball when you get older, there's not anything you can do about it. Now he can't get away with the same pitches in the same area because he doesn't have the velocity he used to.... They're going to have to have confidence in Soria because that's basically all they have.... Miguel Cabrera's in the greatest shape I've ever seen him, and I've been seeing him since he was with the Marlins.... If J.D. Martinez just puts up an average year, with Cabrera and Victor Martinez, that's a tough lineup, man.... Nick Castellanos looks like he's a little bit bigger and stronger over last year. He'll hit 20-plus home runs eventually. Defensively, he doesn't have the big range of a really good third baseman, and he lacks overall quickness.
Throughout the Tigers' recent run of success, their bullpen has been an ongoing weak spot. Detroit has employed brand-name closers—Jose Valverde, Joe Nathan—right as they began to put up generic stat lines. The pitchers in front of those men have been more or less adequate but, like Joba Chamberlain last year, not dominant. In camp this year, though, the Tigers have a pitcher who could change the late innings for manager Brad Ausmus: Bruce Rondon, who averaged 98 mph on his fastball two seasons ago, is back after losing 2014 to Tommy John surgery. Rondon, 24, who touched 103 mph in his rookie season, could become the Tigers' Dellin Betances or Wade Davis. Once he proves he's healthy, Rondon should be allowed to throw high-leverage innings; the Tigers have a smaller margin for error in a newly competitive AL Central, and they can't afford to fumble around with failing relievers for another season.
LEAGUE RANK 5
MANAGER BRAD AUSMUS 2ND SEASON WITH TIGERS
2015 PROJECTED STATISTICS BY ROTOWIRE.COM
MARK CUNNINGHAM/MLB PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES (PRICE)