While the Cincinnati Reds are gearing up in Arizona, former Red Alfredo Simon is soaking up the sun in central Florida with his new teammates, the Detroit Tigers.
The “Big Pasta” was traded this off-season to help the Tigers replace Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer, who took their talents to the east. Simon was sent to Detroit while the Tigers gave the Reds shortstop Eugenio Suarez as well as a former first round pitcher, Jonathon Crawford. Don’t feel too bad for the Tigers though as the top of their rotation is headlined by David Price, Justin Verlander, and Anibal Sanchez. One concern for second year skipper Brad Ausmus is that the Tigers did not do much to fix a bullpen that had 18 blown saves including seven from closer Joe Nathan, which was tied for the fourth most and just one behind the top three that included Jonathan Broxton, who split time with the Reds and Brewers last season.
One big addition was to add lefty reliever Tom Gorzelanny to the mix. The one time Pirates starter was magnificent in the 23 games pitched with Milwaukee last season posting a 0.86 ERA in 21 innings and in 2012 posted a 2.88 ERA in 45 games for the Nationals. Detroit also revamped its outfield with J.D. Martinez moving over from left to right for Torii Hunter (Minnesota), and they took another Blue Jay outfielder as Anthony Gose and Rajai Davis should both see time in center while the biggest piece will play in left. Coming over in the Porcello trade from Boston is Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes who brings tremendous power and a cannon for an arm.
Here’s a look at what the Tigers have done so far this:
Key additions: Yoenis Cespedes, Anthony Gose, Alfredo Simon, Tom Gorzelanny
Key departures: Eugenio Suarez, Max Scherzer, Don Kelly, Phil Coke, Rick Porcello, Robbie Ray, Torii Hunter, Ezequiel Herrera, Andy Dirks
Another challenge for Ausmus, who led the Tigers to a 90-72 record and an AL Central title before being swept out of the playoffs by Baltimore, is the health of his biggest bats, Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera. Martinez is expected to be back at the beginning of the season after having knee surgery right before players arrived at camp, but Cabrera may miss Opening Day if he is not fully recovered from his off-season foot surgery. Last season the duo hit 57 homers while driving in 212 runs and both hit over .310. Cabrera saw his streak of three straight batting titles end in 2014 as he (.313) and Martinez (.335) both fell short of Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (.341).
As for the Tigers and Reds, they’ll meet for the first time since 2012 when Aroldis Chapman imploded in the eighth and allowed four runs to score in a 7-6 loss on Sunday Night Baseball. In fact the Reds have lost five consecutive series to Detroit who have won all, but the first series in 1998 when the Reds swept Detroit at Tigers Stadium. This season will mark the first time the two teams will play four games as each team will host two games in four days with the first set coming at Comerica Park on June 15 and 16 before wrapping up at Great American Ballpark on June 17 and 18.
Here’s a look at what the Tigers hope to have on the field against the Reds in June (as of 2/28)
Starting Rotation (2014 stats):
1.) David Price (248.1 innings, 15-12, 3.26 ERA, 271 Ks w/Rays&Tigers)
2.) Justin Verlander (206 IP, 15-12, 4.54 ERA, 159 Ks)
3.) Anibal Sanchez (126 IP, 8-5, 3.43 ERA, 102 Ks)
4.) Alfredo Simon (196.1 IP, 15-10, 3.44 ERA, 127 Ks w/Reds)
5.) Shane Greene (78.2 IP, 5-4, 3.78 ERA, 81 Ks w/Yankees)
6.) Kyle Lobstein (39.1 IP, 1-2, 4.35 ERA, 27 Ks)
Closer: Joe Nathan (62 games, 5-4, 4.81 ERA, 54 Ks, 35 saves, 7 blown saves)
C.) Alex Avila (124 games, .218 avg, 11 HR, 47 RBI) competition: Bryan Holaday, James McCann
1B.) Miguel Cabrera (159 GP, .313 avg, 25 HR, 109 RBI) competition:Jordan Lennerton, Aaron Westlake
2B.) Ian Kinsler (161 GP, .275 avg, 17 HR, 92 RBI) competition: Andrew Romine, Hernan Perez
3B.) Nick Castellanos (148 GP, .259 avg, 11 HR, 66 RBI) competition: Romine, Perez
SS.) Jose Iglesias (DNP in 2014 due to stress fractures in both shins) competition:Romine, Perez
LF.) Yoenis Cespedes (152 GP, .260 avg, 22 HR, 100 RBI w/Red Sox&A’s) competition:Tyler Collins, Daniel Fields
CF.) Anthony Gose (94 GP, .226 avg, 2HR, 13 RBI, 15 SB w/Blue Jays) competition: Rajai Davis, Collins, Fields
RF.) J.D. Martinez (123 GP, .315 avg, 23 HR, 76 RBI) competition:Davis, Collins, Steven Moya
DH.) Victor Martinez (151 GP, .335 avg, 32 HR, 103 RBI)