By: Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning
Spring training is officially on! So let’s start addressing it and share our initial observations. Two bloggers, 5 questions and only 2 sentences each to explain our answers.
As always, Kurt and Holly don’t share their answers in advance so let’s see how similar or different their responses are.
What are your thoughts about the potential for the Tigers to use a 6-man rotation?
Given the innings restrictions that will be in place after 2020, I think it’s unavoidable but also an opportunity to get a look at more pitchers in the starting rotation. The Tigers have the luxury of several pitchers who are all candidates for the rotation, so it’s a competition of sorts to see who will fit permanently heading into the future.
A great idea, especially given the Tigers’ unique position with so many of their pitchers coming off surgery or just arriving in Detroit, not having pitched much at all last year and the record injuries seen in MLB – all due to the changes and shortened season created by the pandemic. They are expected to have at least half of their rotation comprised of rookies (at some point this season) and I’d rather have them take it slowly, pitch with more rest, pitch longer into the season and stay healthy.
Do you believe in AJ Hinch’s thoughts about using a closer in earlier innings?
Thank goodness the Tigers are finally coming to the party of fresh ideas when it comes to, well, anything. Sometimes you need to shut down a game-changing rally well before the late innings and if you need your closer to do it you do it.
It’s what all the other teams who have kept up with the trends and changes to the game are doing now and it’s good to finally see that modern thought has finally entered the Tigers’ organization. Use your closer – your best reliever – in a later inning where the risk, esp. scoring, is greatest in order to shut down the other side and kill momentum is what every top team does now.
What do you think of Hinch’s belief in varying relievers’ roles and number of innings pitched?
AJ Hinch has been consistent in his desire to have flexibility all through the roster and that includes his pitching staff. The 3-batter rule certainly drives more flexibility when it comes to having pitchers who can face more hitters and log more innings, so it’s hard to argue with the concept.
Hinch’s mantra is flexibility because it gives you more options and increases the probability of winning instead of sticking you into the same strategy hole with the same limited options. Not every reliever is built from the same cloth, both mentally and physically, so finding their strengths and abilities of each one could save and enhance the careers of pitchers like Buck Farmer and Daniel Norris.
In the last 3 full seasons, the Tigers lost 98, 98 and 114 games. The top 3 baseball analytic sites have them losing between 89-105 games this year. Will this team be better or worse in 2021?
I have been consistent on this topic and still stand behind the idea that the Tigers have upgraded big time at the big league manager and coaching positions. Just having Hinch and a well-chosen group of coaches will help this team win more than they have in the past couple of years and the free agent additions have improved the roster as well.
They’ll be better, maybe with losses around 90, simply because they don’t have enough talent and the rookies don’t have much, if any, experience. Ron Gardenhire’s coaching staff was hugely ineffective (even detrimental) and I’ve got to believe that AJ Hinch and his superb coaching staff are going to make the difference by getting players back on track and maximizing talent – and good for at least 10 more wins.
What is your most important takeaway so far as the team prepares to play?
Matthew Boyd had the most inspiring message when it comes to his first impression of his new manager. He is most impressed by Hinch as a communicator, and that’s really important for a new manager looking to set a standard and get everyone pulling in the same direction.
A. J. Hinch and every one of his coaches have called, visited, extensively emailed and/or sent detailed reports and homework to every player on the roster – moves that impressed Al Avila who stated that he has never seen such detailed work and effort in his job until now. Especially remarkable was the response by Miggy, infamous for ignoring all contact during the off-season, in actually taking their phone calls, sending them video of his own progress – and buying into the process.
What did you miss on the Totally Tigers Twitter feed yesterday?
– Tiger catcher Grayson Greiner channels Yogi Berra?
– Tiger coaches have done their homework … before spring training.
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