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Know your enemy: Detroit Tigers

The Tigers haven’t been good in a while, but might be turning a corner.

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Detroit Free Press-USA TODAY NET

KEY ADDITIONS: Jose Urena, Robbie Grossman, Wilson Ramos, Nomar Mazara, Wily Peralta, Julio Teheran

KEY SUBTRACTIONS: Ivan Nova, Austin Romine, Jordan Zimmermann, Jorge Bonfacio

The Tigers had a horrific 114-loss season in 2019, and went 7-19 in September.

Why, then, do I think they might slowly be on the way back?

Finally, some of their recent high draft picks from all the losing seasons might bear fruit. Former No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize didn’t do all that well in his first MLB season, but discount that due to the weirdness of 2020. Mize and Matthew Boyd should be anchoring this rotation for a while, and I think they are poised to improve.

To that, the Tigers added a couple of pitchers who have struggled recently but could be due to recover their previous level in Wily Peralta and Julio Teheran. They’re also getting Michael Fulmer back after Tommy John surgery in early 2019.

This pitching staff won’t be as bad as it was last year.

Hitting? Welllll... that’s another story. Miguel Cabrera is still here, but he’s 38 now and hasn’t had a really good year since 2016. Still, there’s something to be said for having a future Hall of Famer on your team, and Miggy is within reach of two significant milestones — 500 home runs (he has 487) and 3,000 hits (he has 2,866). Former Cubs prospects are at the corners — Isaac Paredes, who went to Detroit in the Nick Castellanos deal, is the likely starting third baseman and Jeimer Candelario, who was sent to the Tigers in 2017 for Alex Avila, will start at first.

Am I trying to talk myself into the Tigers being better? Maybe. I’ve always kind of liked this team and rooted for them when they weren’t playing the Cubs.

They’ve brought A.J. Hinch on board as their manager and you are probably still thinking he has that Astros stink on him and you could be right, but before you dismiss him entirely I would recommend you read this excellent profile of him written by Cody Stavenhagen of The Athletic (subscription required). There’s room for redemption stories in baseball, right?

Let’s be clear, I’m not saying the Tigers are a contender this year or even a .500 team. But there is a chance they could get out of last place. Baby steps, right?

The Cubs are scheduled to face the Tigers in a three-game series May 14-15-16 at Comerica Park.