The 2008 season didn’t go exactly the way the Tigers wanted it to go. They came into the season with expectations of making it to the World Series, and then they fell flat on their face. Suprisingly, they finished dead last in the American League Central. The reason — terrible pitching. Ace Justin Verlander didn’t pitch anything like an ace during the season as he compiled an ERA of 4.84. The #2 Jeremy Bonderman got injured early and was out for the rest of the season. Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson were both terrible. Kenny Rogers was pretty bad, too. Ironically, Armando Galarraga was the team’s best pitcher. That’s right, Armando Galarraga! The bullpen was a complete mess as well. The offense was solid, but not as good as the year before thanks to a poor showing by Curtis Granderson, Gary Sheffield, and Edgar Renteria. 2008 obviously didn’t turn out the way the Tigers had hoped.
Detroit had limited resources because of all the payroll added the season before. With only about 15 million to spend, the club was not able to acquire any bullpen help. They made only 3 meaningful acquisitions. Gerald Laird was brought in through a trade with the Rangers. He’ll be the regular catcher. Adam Everett was signed to play shortstop, but honestly, I would rather just give the job to Roman Santiago. The biggest transaction was through a trade with the Rays. The Tigers sent outfielder Matt Joyce to the Rays for starting pitcher Edwin Jackson.
Jackson will bring a nice arm to the rotation, but I still don’t like their chances unless they get a bounce back year from at least 2 or 3 of their starting pitchers. If that happens, they’ll have a solid rotation and could score enough runs to sneak into the playoffs. It all depends on the pitching.
Winning the division sure is possible as this is basically the same team that many predicted would win it all coming into last season. My early prediction: they’ll be much better than last year because of a bounce back season from Verlander, but they’ll finish about 7 games out of first place.