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Series Preview: Pirates at Tigers

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MLB: Spring Training-Detroit Tigers at Philadelphia Phillies
Miguel Cabrera... err, Ron Gardenhire looks to regain his mojo in 2018.
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Ivan Nova vs. Jordan Zimmermann is a very unexciting pitching matchup for an opening day, at least in 2018. It says a lot about the buzz, or lack thereof, around both teams entering the season.

The Tigers finished last season at 64-98, worst in the American League and tied with the Giants for worst in the Major Leagues. Tigers fans have a head start at watching a beloved ace succeed in Houston.

Detroit replaced manager Brad Ausmus with 60-year-old Ron Gardenhire of Minnesota Twins fame.

Were you aware the Tigers’ Olde English D on their home jerseys didn’t match the one on their hats? That’s a thing of the past, as the Tigers tweaked both to match up, leaving them with a hat logo that’s too damn big.

Schedule

Thursday, 1:10 p.m. — Ivan Nova vs. Jordan Zimmermann, TV: AT&T SportsNet

Saturday, 1:10 p.m. — Trevor Williams vs. Michael Fulmer, TV: AT&T SportsNet, MLB Network (out of market)

Sunday, 1:10 p.m. — Chad Kuhl vs. Francisco Liriano, TV: AT&T SportsNet

Tigers

Offense

Miguel Cabrera is coming off a career-worst season, having posted -0.2 fWAR in 2017 (.249/.329/.399, 16 HR). He’d never gone below 2 fWAR in a full season. Nick Castellanos was a bright spot, with a .285/.333/.520 line and 28 home runs. Somehow, he’s just 26 years old. The Tigers added outfielder Leonys Martin on the cheap over the offseason; it appears he’ll be miscast as a leadoff hitter.

Pitching

Twenty-five-year-old Michael Fulmer (10-12, 3.83 ERA, 3.67 FIP in 217) is the most promising player in a Tigers uniform. Speaking of Opening Day pitchers, Francisco Liriano landed in Detroit, where he can still hold a rotation spot for now. It appears Daniel Norris has made the starting rotation, with minor free-agent signing Mike Fiers struggling and injured.

Outlook

Jameson Taillon, who should be the Pirates’ actual best pitcher, won’t go in this series. Michael Fulmer is solid for Detroit, where it will probably be cold and unfriendly to hitters. It’s going to take a lot more than one good series to capture the attention and enthusiasm of Pittsburgh after a nasty offseason, but this is a series that could give a little boost of goodwill to a team that may need it.

Poll

How will this series go?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Pirates sweep! 162-0!
    (196 votes)
  • 52%
    2-1 Pirates
    (600 votes)
  • 24%
    2-1 Tigers
    (285 votes)
  • 6%
    Tigers sweep. 0-162.
    (70 votes)
1151 votes total Vote Now