A few days ago, we exchange Brewers questions with their team site. We continue the series today, by asking a few of Ashley MacLennan from Bless You Boys. I promise I didn’t mean all those things I said about you last week, Ashley! Thanks again for being a good sport, and for answering these. My answers to her questions are posted on Bless You Boys as well.
As usual, it seems like the Tigers were a destination for many former Twins this off season. Sum up their moves for us, if you can, and what you think might be the best/worst?
The Tigers made some good, and some… ehhhh moves this offseason. I think the three most interesting in my current estimation are the Jose Urena pick up (he’s slated to make his first start of the season in the Tigers/Twins series opener). He performed well in spring training and if you’re a Tigers fan you know that means he’ll have a midseason trade target on him if he’s able to keep it up. Nomar Mazara intrigues me as well, apart from a really rough 2020, he has posted strong numbers, and he’s off to a great start in the home run department with the Tigers. And lastly is Rule 5 pickup Akil Baddoo, a name Twins fans might recognize and probably groaned heartily over when he hit a home run on the first pitch he saw in his Sunday MLB debut. His spring training performance was incredible and I think a lot of Tigers fans are excited to see him more.
I could legitimately see the Tigers winning 68 games or 88 games this year. What is your prediction and why?
I predicted a 70-win season in the BYB prediction pool, and I feel like it will be in the 70-75 game area. They’re off to a strong start, obviously, but I’m not sure they have all the necessary pieces to be competitive across a whole seasons against teams who went out and spent with the postseason in mind. That said I believe they won’t be the worst team in the AL Central this year, and that’s a nice feeling.
What do you think of the A.J. Hinch hiring? Obviously it was controversial, but what do you think he will bring to this team to make it worthwhile?
I wasn’t a huge fan of the move initially, and some things I’ve seen from him since (a general distrust of the media seems to be a feature in his outlook) don’t make me terribly warm about him in general. But I’m not a player on this team, and I can’t speak for what goes on in the clubhouse. If his presence creates a winning atmosphere and gets the best out of the younger core of players, it really doesn’t matter if he gives me the warm and fuzzies.
Who is one player we probably haven’t heard of that is going to make a major impact on the Tigers’ season?
Well this is a trick question because most Twins fans at least have heard of Akil Baddoo, but he’s still easily only of my top picks in this category. A second option, depending how closely you follow the Tigers prospect pitchers, is Tarik Skubal, who I think is going to have a really strong season.
Give us a quick rundown on the pitchers we are going to see this series, and what to expect from them. It looks like Matt Boyd might be closer to 2019 than 2020 after one game, has he changed anything? Casey Mize is a huge prospect, but where is he at right now? Who even is the third guy?
Jose Urena, the first pitcher in the series, was with the Miami Marlins for his whole major league career up until now, so not a huge name in AL circles. He was a fairly average starter for them, nothing to write home about with a 4.74 career FIP and pretty bad numbers overall in 2020. But he looked surprisingly good in spring training so I’m eager to see how he does in real games. Casey Mize gave me a bit of worry last season against real batters, and I’m still not totally convinced he’s going to be the second coming of Justin Verlander, but I think with a bit more regular exposure to major league bats he’ll do fine. That said, he might still be on shaky ground for this game, so time will tell which Mize we get. Boyd looked really good in the home opener and I’ve got my fingers crossed we see a bit more of that this week. We’ve also got former starters Daniel Norris and Michael Fulmer working out of the pen, which has been and will continue to be… interesting.
Anything else you want Twins fans to know entering this series?
The season has started unexpectedly well for the Tigers, so expect them to be riding that high. A key piece will be the overall health of Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers will need to make sure to toe a fine line of giving him reps at first base to keep him happy, but not push him towards injury. If Miggy is healthy, he’s still a force to be reckoned with.