The Detroit Tigers had a bad 2017 season to put it lightly. They finished dead last in the AL Central with a record of 64-98 and 2018 doesn’t look like it will be much better. However, the Tigers do have a few guys in the starting rotation and bullpen that could have big years. Here are the top three pitchers for the Tigers heading into the 2018 season.
This is an obvious choice for many reasons. After the Tigers sent Justin Verlander to the Astros, it was clear Fulmer was the unquestioned ace of the staff. He didn’t have a great statistical season last year, but in his defense, the Tigers didn’t give their pitchers a lot of run support and the bullpen let a lot of leads slip away. He finished the 2017 season with a 10-12 record, 3.83 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. Fulmer did have his season cut short because of elbow surgery, so that will be something to keep an eye on. He’s had a while to rest and get healthy, but elbow injuries shouldn’t be taken lightly. The Tigers are hoping the injury is behind him and that he can return to his Rookie of the Year form.
If you watched the Tigers at all last season, you know Shane Greene was one of about two or three reliable options former manager Brad Ausmus had out of the bullpen. After the club traded Justin Wilson to the Cubs, Shane Greene became the Tigers’ closer and did an admirable job. He finished the 2017 season with a 4-3 record, 2.66 ERA and nine saves. Entering 2018, Greene will maintain the closer spot and should be a reliable option to close out games. He was a starter early in his career, but after losing his starting job a couple years ago, Greene has become arguably the Tigers’ best relief pitcher. I expect him to have a breakout 2018 season as the Tigers’ full time closer.
Like Greene, Alex Wilson was a reliable option out of the bullpen for Ausmus. He finished the 2017 season with a 2-5 record, 4.50 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 60 innings of work. Wilson’s numbers don’t jump off of the page, but he had a pretty good season. He had his ups and downs, like every pitcher does, but Ausmus trusted Wilson to get the Tigers out of a lot of difficult situations. Most of the time, he was pretty successful. Obviously, he wasn’t perfect. No one is. But in 2018, Wilson will be the best relief option outside of Greene. The bullpen will have a few familiar faces, but with the Tigers rebuilding, a lot of younger guys will get a shot to show what they can do. Wilson will be one of the veterans that new manager Ron Gardenhire will look to to lead and teach younger guys.