What Detroit Tigers’ lineup, rotation, bullpen should look like now that offseason moves are done

5 offseason additions paint clearer picture of Opening Day roster

Detroit Tigers outfielder Riley Green hits a sacrifice fly to bring in a run in the first inning of a spring training baseball game, Monday, March 21, 2022, in Lakeland, Fla. (John Raoux, The Associated Press 2022)

DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers made their final free agent addition over the weekend, signing Michael Pineda to round out the starting rotation.

General manager Al Avila confirmed that would be the last of the team’s offseason moves. In total, the Tigers added two starting pitchers, a reliever, a shortstop and a catcher. It wasn’t the flashiest offseason, but the Tigers patched several holes in the roster and should be able to build upon a successful 2021.

Here’s how the roster should look by Opening Day:

Everyday lineup

The way Major League Baseball teams approach their everyday lineups has drastically changed the last several years. Gone are the days of rolling out the same starting nine for 150 games -- matchups and platoons have become much more prominent.

Detroit has the pieces to embrace that mentality, at least to some extent. There are clear left-right platoon candidates at certain positions, such as left field and catcher.

But there will also be a handful of guys A.J. Hinch pencils into the starting nine every single day: Javier Baez at shortstop, Jeimer Candelario at third base, Jonathan Schoop at second or first base, Robbie Grossman in right field and Miguel Cabrera at designated hitter.

Detroit Tigers' Jeimer Candelario. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Let’s also address the elephant in the room: Will Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson make the Opening Day roster? The organization’s two top prospects are playing regularly in spring and look like they’ll have a chance to travel north the first week of April.

Let’s say they both make the team. The starting lineups would look probably something like this:

Against right-handed starters:

  1. Akil Baddoo, LF
  2. Robbie Grossman, RF
  3. Riley Greene, CF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, DH
  5. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
  6. Javier Baez, SS
  7. Spencer Torkelson, 1B
  8. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
  9. Tucker Barnhart, C

Against left-handed starters:

  1. Robbie Grossman, RF
  2. Riley Greene, CF
  3. Javier Baez, SS
  4. Miguel Cabrera, DH
  5. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
  6. Spencer Torkelson, 1B
  7. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
  8. Eric Haase, C
  9. Derek Hill, LF

The right-handed half of the left field platoon could be occupied by Hill, Daz Cameron or even Haase, if the Tigers want to stick to Barnhart behind the plate on a more regular basis because of his defense.

I’m also wondering if Hinch would be willing to drop Schoop so far down in the lineup. His veteran status might be enough to push the rookies into the lower third, at least early on.

Starting rotation

With Pineda in the mix, the Tigers’ starting five is etched in stone, barring injury:

  1. Eduardo Rodriguez
  2. Casey Mize
  3. Tarik Skubal
  4. Matt Manning
  5. Michael Pineda

The order might vary, and Tyler Alexander might get a turn or two if Pineda needs more time to build up to speed, but for the majority of the summer, these should be the names atop Hinch’s lineup cards.

Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch takes the ball from starting pitcher Tarik Skubal during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Detroit. (The Associated Press 2021)

Everyone knows more or less what to expect from Rodriguez and Pineda -- the former should be very solid and the latter will keep the Tigers in most games. The success of the group will be determined by how much Mize, Skubal and Manning improve from a year ago. They all need to make strides.

Bench

The Tigers will likely only carry four bench bats, and that includes possible semi-regulars in Haase and Hill. So who will occupy the remaining two spots?

It will be a crowded competition. Harold Castro, Isaac Paredes, Kody Clemens, Zack Short and Willi Castro are vying for infield reps, while Cameron and Victor Reyes compete in the outfield. Will Hinch bring a third catcher north? If so, it’ll be Dustin Garneau.

The next two weeks might have a lot to do with who ultimately pulls through, but for now, I’ll predict the following reserves:

  • Eric Haase
  • Derek Hill
  • Harold Castro
  • Victor Reyes

Hinch loves versatility and reliability, and while they’ll never be stars, Harold Castro and Reyes have been fairly productive over the past two years. Reyes can play all three outfield positions and hit from both sides of the plate, while Harold Castro can play anywhere in the field.

Bullpen

It looked like all eight spots in the Tigers’ bullpen were locked up, but then Hinch revealed right-hander Kyle Funkhouser will likely miss the start of the season due to a lat injury.

As it stands, seven relievers should be locked in:

  • Gregory Soto -- left-handed high leverage
  • Jose Cisnero -- right-handed high leverage
  • Michael Fulmer -- right-handed high leverage
  • Andrew Chafin -- left-handed high leverage
  • Tyler Alexander -- left-handed long relief
  • Alex Lange -- right-handed
  • Joe Jimenez -- right-handed

Funkhouser grew into a valuable Swiss army knife role last season, giving Hinch multiple innings on some occasions, getting out of jams in others and even filling in for Soto or Cisnero when needed. The Tigers hope his absence is short-lived.

In the meantime, the battle for the final bullpen spot likely comes down to Jason Foley, Angel De Jesus, Rony Garcia and Bryan Garcia. It feels like Foley’s spot to lose.


About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.