After painful rebuild, Tigers still stuck in neutral

FILE Al Avila
Posted at 7:58 PM, May 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-30 19:58:50-04

After an encouraging second half in 2021, the Detroit Tigers were significant spenders last offseason for the first time in a while. It hasn’t yet worked out like they hoped.

Javier Báez (six years, $140 million) is hitting .194. Eduardo Rodriguez (five years, $77 million) has one win in eight starts with a 4.38 ERA.

Detroit hasn’t made the postseason since 2014, and the Tigers are reaching the point where they should expect their rebuild to pay dividends. It’s not happening this season, so far. The team is 17-29, 11 games out of first place in the AL Central.

Detroit started slowly last season too, but when a 9-24 mark eventually turned into a respectable 77-win season, it seemed the worst might be behind the Tigers. An anemic offense has prevented Detroit from building on that. The Tigers have been held to two or fewer runs 24 times already, going 2-22 in those games.

Of the six hitters with the most at-bats for Detroit this year, five of them are hitting below .200. That includes Spencer Torkelson, the top pick in the 2020 draft. Detroit also has Casey Mize, the No. 1 pick in 2018, but the right-hander has made only two starts in 2022 because of elbow problems.

If there’s an obvious bright spot for Detroit, it’s been the performance of 25-year-old lefty Tarik Skubal, who is 3-2 with a 2.44 ERA, 55 strikeouts and just nine walks. He’s one young prospect who seems to be panning out nicely for the Tigers.