Detroit Tigers 2024 Season Preview

The Detroit Tigers made some under-the-radar additions this offseason, putting them in position to contend in the AL Central.

Spencer Torkelson #20 of the Detroit Tigers hits a two run rbi single against the Oakland Athletics in the top of the third inning at RingCentral Coliseum.
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Spencer Torkelson #20 of the Detroit Tigers hits a two run rbi single against the Oakland Athletics in the top of the third inning at RingCentral Coliseum on September 24, 2023 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Funny how much of a difference a year can make. The Tigers had some intriguing players and moments in 2023, but injuries ultimately held the team back from reaching their full potential.

With Miguel Cabrera gone, and an influx of young talent and a few veteran additions, Detroit has a team that actually feels different.

While I will not go as far as guaranteeing a playoff appearance, the 2024 team is better. No, the front office did not make a headline-shattering trade or big deal free agent signing, however, they did get deeper. After a year of injuries you should know that quality depth cannot be understated.

In year two and three of several core players, a step forward is expected. For the first time in a very long time, the farm system has also improved the depth and quality outside of the first few names. Let’s dive in to where things stand for the Detroit Tigers heading into the season.

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Starting Pitchers

40- Man Options: Tarik Skubal, Kenta Maeda, Jack Flaherty, Matt Manning, Casey Mize, Reese Olson, Sawyer Gipson-Long, Keider Montero

Others: Brant Hurter, Ty Madden, Jackson Jobe

No need to waste time convincing you that Tarik Skubal is this teams ace. He proved it last season and I think we can all agree the sky is the limit. After Skubal, the team has question marks.

The front office added veterans Maeda and Flaherty to help bridge the gap to younger players. Maeda has strung together an impressive, and honestly underrated, career. Fans will be pleased with what he brings to the team although nothing is exactly flashy.

Flaherty is looking for a bit of a rebound. The once promising prospect with the Cardinals has battled injuries and command issues that led him to a bullpen role late last season. He was brought in to work with the phenomenal pitching staff and hopefully reap the benefits of a pitchers friendly park.

In a small sample in spring, the improvements are obvious. Flaherty has 18 K’s through 13.2 innings with a 3.29 ERA. But more importantly, extra life on his fastball jumping from 93 mph last season to touching 96 mph this spring.

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The No. 4 and 5 starters were a big debate coming into spring training. Manning, Olson, and a now healthy Mize were all in consideration. Matt Manning showed positive signs in spring but too many home runs factored into the number game and he will start as the odd man out heading to Toledo.

His fastball has jumped a tick and his command with the pitch has been excellent. Although it is spring, his 11.25 K/9 is more than double last year’s 5.77 K/9 and he is producing whiffs at a higher rate.

Next is Casey Mize as well. After the injuries, I was not sure if Mize could be considered much more than a back-end option and he might just make me look ignorant. But Mize recently said he has never felt more confident in his fastball and I can see why.

His average velocity was around 93 mph in year’s past has touched 98 mph this spring. Mize coming back from injury and proving true value could raise this team’s ceiling. They need someone else in that “frontline starter” bucket and he has an opportunity to be just that.

I actually think Olson might have a higher ceiling than a couple players already listed. Olson had a great spring as well and surprised many with his strong rookie season. His bread and butter is the slider, which produced a 41.6% whiff rate, and his fastball has potential.

The depth in the minors is much improved from last year. Gipson-Long is injured but flashed potential at the end of last season and looks like a big league arm. I am high on Montero and although there’s some reliver risk there’s also upside that is getting underrated.

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Brant Hurter is a lefty option with a unique arm slot that deserves a look and Madden is a highly rated prospect. I know, I know, you want to hear about THE highly rated prospect; Jackson Jobe.

Just Baseball’s no. 24th ranked prospect, Jackson Jobe is quickly developing into phenom status. The 21-year-old former third overall pick blew through three levels last year leaving lasting impressions at each stop. High strikeouts, low walks. Weak contact, swing and misses.

Disgusting breaking ball, 100 mph heat. For many, this spring was the first glimpse and I’m sure you were wondering if the Tigers could squeeze him into the rotation.

Special talent. Would not be surprised to see him in a Tigers uniform later this season.


40- Man Options: Jason Foley, Beau Brieske, Andrew Chafin (L), Mason Englert, Alex Faedo, Wilmer Flores, Tyler Holton (L), Alex Lange, Shelby Miller, Will Vest, Joey Wentz(L), Brendan White

Others: Drew Anderson, Andrew Vasquez (L), Garrett Hill, Trey Wingenter, Devin Sweet

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Even through their recent struggles, the Tigers have had bullpen arms pop. During the offseason the Tigers brought back old friend and left Andrew Chafin which is an upgrade from the underwhelming lefty options outside of Holton last season. The combination of those two, plus perhaps Wentz, gives the Tigers an upgrade from last year’s southpaws.

The only notable addition was Shelby Miller. Once a top prospect moved in the Dansby Swanson deal, Miller found new life with the Dodgers last season. The Tigers saw his new splitter and brought him over as another high leverage option.

Speaking of high leverage, let’s go ahead and have the closer conversation. Alex Lange should not be guaranteed the job all season. While he has the stuff to be a lockdown closer, locating it has been far from consistent.

I expect the leash to be shorter, with Jason Foley as another option to see save opportunities. The groundball machine has been nothing but consistent and I would imagine Hinch has all the trust in the world in Foley. Miller, hell, even Brieske, could see some important late innings as well.

Two names to keep in the back of your head are Drew Anderson and Wilmer Flores. Both have starting experience and will be able to pitch in a multitude of roles this year.

Anderson, back in the states after a stint overseas, has credited the coaching staff with helping him unlock something that has lead to a massive jump in velocity. Flores, now looking like a full time reliver, has also seen a big jump in his velocity. Both very well could work their way into the rotation and I have a feeling Flores might stand out.

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40 – Man Options: Jake Rogers (C), Dillion Dingler (C), Carson Kelly (C), Javier Baez, Andy Ibanez, Colt Keith, Ryan Kriedler, Eddys Leonard, Wenceel Perez, Spencer Torkelson, Gio Urshela, Zack McKinstry, Matt Vierling

Others: Jace Jung, Keston Hiura

Let’s work around the diamond starting at catcher. Jake Rogers will assume a larger role in 2024 after a 21 home run (107 games) explosion in 2023. I’m still worried about his 30+% strikeout rate and home run or nothing approach, but at the very least he provides plus defense and will run into enough home runs to make him valuable.

Kelly is back and hopefully at 100% with an opportunity to get his career back on track.

Torkelson has finally started to look like the prospect that went 1:1 in 2020. Every player develops at a different rate and Tork’s has been gradual. He’s not going to win gold gloves or batting titles, but he doesn’t need to. Draw walks, and hit home runs. The key to the latter is lifting the ball.

Improvements in Torkelson’s launch angle was the difference in being sent to the minors (2022) and hitting 31 home runs in 2023. The difference in his batted ball data is promising, and at only 24 years old, there’s still more to tap into. If he can get his OPS to start with an eight, an All-Star appearance is not out of the question.

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The middle infield could not consist of two more different players. At short, Javy is still Javy. The glove carries what is left of his value and the bat will leave fans pulling their hair out. At second, top prospect Colt Keith (Just Baseball no. 17) is slatted to start. The lefty might not look great in the field, but he can impact the baseball at the plate. A much improved situation from Schoop at second.

Who was going to play third led the Twitter discourse for much of the winter. Vierling, McKinstry, Ibanez, or Jung only for the Tigers to add Gio Urshela into the mix. The good news? At least one of them will play well, right? Urshela has a pretty good floor, in my opinion.

A proven hitter without much power but will put the ball in play. Vierling is a solid player and McKinstry is more valuable as a utility man in my mind. Being able to use him as a defensive replacement across multiple positions and provide a lefty bat off the bench is useful. Ibanez had a sneaky good season but I’m not completely sold on him.

Jace Jung (no. 90 prospect) is the prosect many are expecting to eventually take over. After recently moving to third, he’ll need all the reps he can get in the minors. If he hits for power like he did last season (28 home runs) it might be tough to keep him down.

Kriedler and Perez can play several positions and have some intrigue, but the player I really want to see is Leonard. Coming over at the deadline from the Dodgers, Leonard put up impressive numbers in Toledo and is knocking at the door for an opportunity. Sneaky pop and the ability to play all over, he could take a utility role from one of several options this season.


40- Man Options: Akil Baddoo, Mark Canha, Kerry Carpenter, Riley Greene, Parker Meadows

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Others: Justice Bigbie, Justyn-Henry Malloy, Bligh Madris, Ryan Vilade

A need for a righty outfielder was clear heading into the offseason and the Tigers wasted no time addressing the need by adding veteran Mark Canha. Honestly, it’s the perfect marriage. Some versatility and ability to get on base has turned into the front office fetish. Platoons and reps at DH should fit Canha well.

Greene is moving from center to corner outfield which should, theoretically, help him stay healthy. I know the savant red lines are a bit of a faux pas, but but you have to love what you see.

You’d like to see Greene cut down on strikeouts and improve on his 39% whiff rate on breaking balls, but that’s not even the area of most-needed improvement, it’s his groundball rate.

He did cut down from 56% in 2022 to 48.9% in 2023, but more improvement is needed. Lifting the ball will do nothing but good and open up more extra base hits. Keep in mind, he’s only 23 with less than 200 games under his belt. Stay healthy and a break out season is in line.

The other corner (or DH) will be covered by Kerry Carpenter. While the “Kerry Bonds” nickname might lead you to think power is all he has, Carpenter is more than just a slugger. He started using all fields last season which helped him develop more into a pure hitter.

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We can’t talk about the outfield without including the new center fielder, Parker Meadows. Elite speed, plus defense, some pop and a good eye for the zone makes Meadows a high floor player. I think he will be around a .230-.240 hitter with 20/20 potential and a glove that gives him 3+ WAR upside.

Rounding out the depth is Akil Baddoo and two promising prospects: Justice Bigbie and Justyn-Henry Malloy. Baddoo has tools and his own flaws, but you can do worse for minor league depth. Bigbie, a 19th-round pick, exploded onto the scene last year slashing .343/.405/.942 in the minors.

While I like the bat, I do have reservations about his power and want to see how he fares in Triple-A before I start to find ways to get him at-bats.

Malloy, acquired from the Braves prior to 2023, slashed .277/.417/891 with 23 home runs in Toledo in 2023. His plate discipline alone shows me he can play at the Major League level. With Cahna on the roster, finding at bats will be tough. He could use more time to improve his outfield defense after eliminating third base from his focus.

He is as bright as any player as you can see from him breaking down his game in this interview on The Call Up Podcast.

Final Thoughts

It might not be the sexy moves that grab headlines, but the philosophy of building a team on depth as opposed to a couple big name talents can succeed in this league. Detroit got better this winter by adding depth externally and with the development internally.

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Before I continue, I want to be clear. There’s still a lot to prove. Torkelson, Greene, and Carpenter need to solidify themselves as core players and the pitching staff needs someone to step up and go from middle of the rotation to frontline starter, joining Skubal.

What I can say with more clarity is this organization is in a better spot. While there’s still plenty of room for improvement, the farm system is in a place where they can fill some holes internally throughout the season or trade for improvement.

Right now I see the Tigers as a second place team in the division with enough talent to have a few things go right and win the AL Central. The Lions are not the only Detroit team to be excited about.