DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers will be on TV today for just the second time during spring training, and most of the team’s expected starters, as well as its newest starting pitcher, will be on the field.
Detroit will host the Toronto Blue Jays at 1:05 p.m. Friday at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Detroit.
The team’s newest starting pitcher, Ivan Nova, who signed a one-year deal Jan. 13, will take the mound for his second outing of the spring. Nova pitched two scoreless innings in his first start, allowing two hits.
Closer Joe Jimenez, No. 1 prospect Casey Mize, No. 9 prospect Alex Faedo, Rule 5 draft pick Rony Garcia and free agent signees Zack Godley and Tim Adleman are also expected to pitch Friday.
Ron Gardenhire will also trot out what figures to be most of the team’s starting lineup by Opening Day.
- Derek Hill, CF
- Victor Reyes, RF
- Miguel Cabrera, DH
- C.J. Cron, 1B
- Jonathan Schoop, 2B
- Christin Stewart, LF
- Dawel Lugo, 3B
- Austin Romine, C
- Willi Castro, SS
Cabrera, Cron, Schoop, Stewart and Romine all figure to begin the regular season at these same positions in the field and the lineup. Lugo, Castro and Reyes are all battling for starting spots. Hill is the only player in this lineup who seems like a long-shot to crack the 26-man roster.
Reyes is certainly a player to watch as the spring progresses. He’s coming off a breakout 2019 season in which he hit .304 with a .335 on-base percentage and a .767 OPS. He doesn’t have much home run power or a great eye at the plate, but Reyes had 24 extra-base hits in 69 games and put the ball in play regularly.
JaCoby Jones, Cameron Maybin and Christin Stewart are the presumed outfield starters this year, but if Reyes can use the spring to legitimize his breakout while the others struggle, he could force his way into the lineup.
So far, he’s 3-for-7 with a double and a stolen base. He’ll likely get two or three at-bats Friday.
Stewart, meanwhile, is just 1-for-7 this spring with four strikeouts after a disappointing, injury-riddled 2019. The Tigers are counting on him to be a power source this year, so he needs to find his footing.
Cabrera and Cron are off to nice starts this spring and slugged back-to-back home runs Tuesday against the New York Mets. Romine also hit a home run.
Hill is 2-for-4 with a home run this spring.
Lugo, entrenched in a third-base duel with Jeimer Candelario, is 0-7 so far but has played solid defense. He isn’t falling far behind in the competition -- Candelario is just 1-for-10 with a single and three strikeouts.
The Tigers have written Castro into the lineup nearly every game this spring. He’s responded with four hits in his first 10 at-bats.
The Blue Jays will send left-hander Anthony Kay to the mound. He’ll be backed by this starting nine:
- Billy McKinney, RF
- Santiago Espinal, 2B
- Joe Panik, SS
- Vlad Guerrero Jr., DH
- Teoscar Hernandez, CF
- Rowdy Tellez, 1B
- Caleb Joseph, C
- Derek Fisher, LF
- Brandon Drury, 3B
Guerrero and Hernandez are exciting young players to keep an eye on, particularly the former. Guerrero was a mega prospect before a decent rookie season in 2019. Fisher showed some promise with the Houston Astros and is trying to find his place in the Toronto organization.