LAKELAND, Fla. – Pitchers and catchers formally began the 2017 campaign Monday, and uncertainty surrounds the group.
Pitchers threw off mounds, showing coaches their abilities for the season’s first time.
Veteran starter Justin Verlander and his young counterpart Michael Fulmer anchor the starting five. These two are bona fide stars. Verlander owns a Cy Young award, and Fulmer won the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year.
The questions for the Tigers come from the back end of the rotation. Last season, Jordan Zimmerman won April’s AL Pitcher of the Month award. After a neck strain sidelined him for weeks, he never returned to that form. The Tigers will also expect more from veterans Anibal Sanchez and Daniel Norris, both of whom struggled last year, posting a combined record of 12-18.
Much like the rotation, the bullpen finds itself steadied by an aging star and an emerging talent. Closer Francisco Rodriguez, known as K-Rod for his strikeout abilities, returns for another year with the club. At 35, this may be his last season in the majors.
On the other end of the spectrum lies reliever Bruce Rondon. The 26 year old had an up-and-down season last year, posting an ERA of 2.97 over 36.1 innings.
Performances on the mound could determine the success of Detroit’s season. Camp opens with question marks, but will it break with answers?