Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
Opening Day is always a time for optimism, but somewhat uncharacteristically, optimism has not been the theme of the off-season this year for the Tigers. Many fans were frustrated by the lack of moves to upgrade the bullpen, as well as the loss of Max Scherzer and the jettisoning of Rick Porcello. Couple that with off-season surgery for Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, and the media narrative that the Tigers window for a championship run has closed, and Tigers fans seem ready to turn the page. I however don't share that point of view. I think this lineup will be among the best in baseball, and if the key parts stay healthy, could be the best in baseball. I think the defense is going to be vastly improved, not necessarily to the point of being good, but certainly to the point of no longer being a detriment. The rotation won't be the all-world group that Tigers fans got spoiled with the past few years, but it's still going to be strong, with a pair of Cy Young winners at the top and an ERA champ in the third slot, plus a very promising up and comer in Shane Greene. To me, this team is still a team capable of winning 90 or more games, as long as the bullpen can hold up. I don't know if it will, but I think there are enough pieces in place to make it work, though that might take a bit of time. The AL Central will be a battle that will come down to the final weekend, but I see the Tigers winning the division for the fifth straight year by two games, finishing 91-71 before advancing to the postseason.
Mark Anderson, Director of Scouting
The Tigers of 2015 are going to be an interesting crew to follow. While the obvious exists, including several different players at key spots, the club's overall composition and anticipated method for winning have changed significantly as well. The Tigers -- while still boasting a strong starting rotation -- are not projected to carry the dominant starting rotation they have in recent years. David Price and Anibal Sanchez can likely be counted on to dominate more often than not, but the trio of Shane Greene, Justin Verlander, and Alfredo Simon offers many questions that can only be answered through the course of the 2015 season. The bullpen is, well, a Tigers bullpen; one with tons of questions and never-ending uncertainty. Offensively, while the Tigers have been potent in recent years, I don't believe they have been as potent as this year's version could be. With Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera anchoring the middle of a lineup now bolstered by an apparently for real J.D. Martinez, Yoenis Cespedes, and an improving Nick Castellanos, this year's club could score runs in bunches. On top of all that, the addition of Anthony Gose in center field and a full year of Jose Iglesias at shortstop should aid in preventing even more runs. That's a lot of change to a contending club, but change that arguably could have made the Tigers more well-rounded and more well-suited to contend in 2015. At the end of the season, though it may be rocky at some points, I expect the Tigers to finish 91-71 and in first place in the American League Central.
James Chipman, Senior Correspondent
Similar to last year, the Tigers enter the 2015 season with a major overhaul on their 25-man roster, health concerns about some of their aging veterans, and question marks in that perennial Achilles heel of theirs: the bullpen. Their rotation has taken a large hit, losing Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. Stepping in are wild cards Alfredo Simon (in a contract year) and Shane Greene. Additionally, the bullpen has also been virtually untouched after yet another disappointing season last year. At the plate and on defense however the lineup has definitely improved. The addition of Yoenis Cespedes will undoubtedly be an upgrade over the departed Torii Hunter. A healthy Jose Iglesias (fingers crossed) and the newly acquired Anthony Gose should provide improved defense up the middle. Provided Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez stay healthy, the duo should anchor the Tigers lineup once again. A platoon of Alex Avila and James McCann could be something sweet and Nick Castellanos is my candidate for breakout player of the year on this Tigers team. There is question marks and health concerns, but overall I believe there is enough left in the tank for one more ride. Typically considered one of the weaker divisions in baseball, the AL Central has vastly improved, and aside from the Twins, the champion could arguably come from anywhere this season. Nonetheless, I expect the Detroit Tigers to win their fifth consecutive AL Central pennant with a 90-72 record.
Neil Weinberg, Senior Analyst
There's a lot to look forward to this season, but at the end of the day, I'm going to peg this club as a wild card team who finishes just shy of the Indians in the Central. There are a lot of good players on the team, but there are weaknesses. The bullpen is thin, a couple of their most important players are trying to come back from injury, and there's no depth if anyone goes down. Let's call it 86-87 wins with plenty of big moments along the way.
Chris Brown, Staff Writer
The 2014 season is generally viewed as a disappointment by Tigers fans, even though the team battled a great deal of adversity to win 90 games and take home their 4th consecutive division title. That’s the nature of high expectations, though, and it’s World Series or bust again in 2015. The Tigers boasted the best collection of hitters in all of baseball last year, and they appear to be even better and more versatile this season. Torii Hunter, Eugenio Suarez, and Don Kelly have departed, but they’ve been replaced by superior talents in Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Iglesias, and Anthony Gose. This team will score plenty of runs, which is a good thing, because the pitching will be rough at times in 2015. David Price will do a fine job of replacing Max Scherzer, but Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez carry injury concerns, and Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon are downgrades from last year’s 4th and 5th starters. The Tigers will almost certainly have to trade for another starter in 2015, or risk handing too many innings over to a bullpen that is once again the weak point of the team. The good outweighs the bad, however, and the Tigers will finish 88-74, holding off the Indians to win the division, and getting revenge on the Orioles in the ALDS before falling to the Mariners in the ALCS.
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