Detroit Tigers newsletter: Can’t lose ’em all if you never play ’em

Welcome back to the Free Press’ weekly Detroit Tigers newsletter. Sorry for the delay in issue No. 1; we’ve been a little bit busy – as we imagine you all have – with the near-complete shutdown of the sporting world for the past four months.
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Still, we imagine you’re ready for some baseball – why else would you have hit the “subscribe” button? – so let’s fire up the ol’ Hot Take Machine that’s been gathering dust in the corner of the Newsletter-Cave (now equipped for working remotely!) …
Take 1: AL AVILA IS A G-E-N-I-U-S, GEEN-YUS! Just months after the Tigers led MLB in losses, the team is unbeaten all the way into July, shattering the franchise record for latest first loss in a year!
Uh, let’s try that again…
Take 2: AL AVILA IS A M-O-R-O-N, MORAN! It’s already the middle of July and the Tigers still haven’t won a game. And we thought they were bad last season; even if they win out this year, they’ll only have 60 wins!
Well, that’s no better, is it?
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Anyway, here we are, 11 days from the start of a 60-game sprint, pretty much the ultimate Small Sample Size of a season. Whether you’re feeling good about the Tigers’ chances (though probably not as good as that weirdo who thought they could make the playoffs) or getting ready for another losing season (though not as much as that jerk who predicted a .333 winning percentage), I guess we should talk about baseball?
We have the coronavirus, of course, to blame for the delay, and it’s not done yet. While we’re not sure about all the Tigers who’ve been hit by COVID-19, we do know that left-hander Daniel Norris is shut down due to positive test results, and it’s driving him crazy. He had a message for the Freep’s Anthony Fenech about the virus:
“Wearing the masks, not going out and all of that stuff, because if we actually want to play and get through the season, that’s what has to happen.”
Check out the rest of his message here.
Norris’ absence from camp has drawn all eyes back to the rotation, which was supposed to be, well, as much of a strength as a team coming off 114 losses can have. Here’s who’s penciled in there now:
Jordan Zimmermann: Uh, or maybe not, after he was lit up in Sunday’s scrimmage, and his $22 million contract is a relatively pared-down $8 million (pro-rated) this season.
Matthew Boyd: He’s working on his breaking ball, presumably to avoid giving up another 39 homers this year. (We know, it’s only a 60-game season, but still…)
Spencer Turnbull: Mess with the (Turn)bull, you get the horns. Yes, we’ve been waiting MONTHS to use that, and it’s finally appropriate, according to Our Man Fenech’s early scouting report.
Ivan Nova: He’s got a one-year contract with the Tigers and a career 5.70 ERA at Comerica Park. But he’s excited to play, according to the Freep’s Evan Petzold.
Casey Mize: Hah, no, just seeing if you were paying attention. But he sure looked the part this week against Miguel Cabrera. Our Man Fenech was on the scene there.
Those starters will be handing things over to a deeper-than-usual bullpen, with the Tigers expected to carry some extra relievers with an expanded 30-man roster for the first two weeks. Our Man Fenech broke down the contenders to break camp here.
We didn’t forget about the hitters, either. Avila, that noted GEENYUS/MORAN, was active during the offseason, bringing in some veterans for leadership and, perhaps more importantly, home runs. Two of them, Cameron Maybin and Austin Romine, are already energized about leading the way out of the 100-loss darkness, as Our Man Petzold notes here.
Somewhere between Maybin, the OF prospect of the past decade, and Riley Greene, the OF prospect of this decade, there’s Christin Stewart, who’s facing a make-or-break season in Year 2. The Freep’s Jeff Seidel notes here that Stewart has just one job this year. Find out what it is here.
Quick: Which Venezuelan-born player has the most homers in a single MLB…
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