The 2018 season is upon us and with another spring training in the books, here are some notes about this year’s squad heading into the season opener.
Victor Martinez has shined on Opening Day. He has hit safely in 11 of the last 12 lid-lifters he has played in, posting an average of .310 with two homers and seven RBI.
The Tigers open 2018 against the Pittsburgh Pirates in an interleague tilt. Since 2006, the Tigers own the second best interleague record in baseball. The Tigers are 135-91 vs the National League for a winning percentage of .597. Boston owns the best winning percentage in that span at .664.
Jeimer Candelario’s spring may have showcased why he would be a good fit for the two spot in the Tigers lineup. The Candy Man drew a team high 11 walks and posted an on base percentage of .394. The Tigers would love to see baserunners ahead of Miguel Cabrera and Nicholas Castellanos in the lineup.
Jacoby Jones made his second consecutive Opening Day roster after a productive spring. Jones hit a cool .354 and posted a .415 on base percentage. Jacoby opend last season with a bang, hitting a there-run homer off Jose Quintana on Opening Day in Chicago in a 6-3 Tigers win.
Miguel Cabrera is heading into 2018 on fire. Mggy was 12 for his last 25 at bats in spring training and finished camp with a .368 batting average. His 13 RBI was second on the team to Nicholas Castellanos. Cabrera gave Tigers fans plenty to cheer about in the 2009 home opener when he homered and drove in six runs in a 15-2 pasting of the Texas Rangers.
The Tigers have six players on the team that have made an Opening Day roster for the first time. Candelario, Niko Goodrum, John Hicks, Joe Jimenez, Victor Reyes and Warwick Saupold will all be introduced on Opening Day for the first time.
Keep an eye on Daniel Stumpf this year out of the Tigers bullpen. After appearing in a career high 55 games last season, Stumpf had a strong spring, adding a change-up to his repertoire. Stumpf posted a 1.69 ERA this spring with 10 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings.
Shane Greene begins his first full season as the Bengals closer and last year’s cameo and this year’s spring numbers indicate that Greenie is ready for the challenge. Gone is last year’s veteran closer Francisco Rodriguez leaving Greene to anchor the back end of the pen. Greene allowed just one run in eight innings in Lakeland with 12 strikeouts.
Is this the year that Buck no longer pitches down on the Farmer? Farmer had made the Opening Day roster and has no plans of heading back to the minor leagues. A starter until this season, Farmer will begin the year in the Tigers bullpen. Farmer was lights out in spring camp, pitching 11 scoreless innings while striking to 11.
Nicholas Castellanos led the Tigers in spring training RBI with a total of 14 in just 20 games. At the age of 26, and many of last year’s veterans gone,he is emerging as one of the team leaders. Coming off a career year in 2017, Castellanos will hit fourth in the Tigers lineup this year. Nick batted in that spot some last year and it didn’t prove to be overwhelming. Castellanos hit .378 behind Miggy last year, and with a bounce back year from Cabrera, he should see plenty of RBI opportunities.
The opener marks the 118th in the Tigers deep and rich history. They have won their last six straight openers, going for lucky number seven.