The start of a new season is one of the few hopes for Detroit sports fans.
In 2022, Michigan sports bettors should actually have reasons to be somewhat optimistic about the Detroit Tigers.
Coming off an over-achieving 2021 season, Detroit made some subtle offseason moves to improve the roster.
With Opening Day for the league on Thursday, and the Tigers getting started on Friday, just where do they stack up in the playoff picture for this season?
Tigers in the playoff mix?
Make no mistake, a Detroit Tigers World Series in 2022 is quite unlikely.
Oddsmakers still list Detroit near the bottom third of the league in terms of longest odds to win the title.
The same can be said for the ALCS.
However, the Tigers are considered in the mix for the AL Central title this year.
Most sportsbooks see the Tigers nipping at the heels of the Minnesota Twins ( to win the Central) to be the top contenders to the Chicago White Sox () in the division.
The Sox are the favorite for good reason, but the rest of the division seems unproven and up for grabs.
Detroit Tigers win total expectations not growing
Despite surpassing last year’s projected win total of 70 games with a 77-85 record, oddsmakers aren’t giving Detroit much credit for a wins increase.
In fact, most sportsbooks are listing Detroit’s over/under for wins this year at 77.5.
Second-year Tigers manager A.J. Hinch has reached 77 wins or more in his last six seasons as a MLB manager. That includes five years with the Houston Astros.
Keep in mind, Detroit started the 2021 season 9-24 and were seven games over .500 the rest of the way.
Key additions to the lineup
One of the big weaknesses for Detroit last season was the ability to produce runs. The Tigers had 697 on the year, which was only better than seven teams.
The team addressed that by signing shortstop Javier Baez to a 6-year, $140 million contract in the offseason. Detroit then traded for outfielder Austin Meadows on Monday in exchange for Isaac Paredes and a draft pick.
Meadows is a 26-year-old lefty that had 33 home runs in 2019 for the Tampa Bay Rays and 27 last season. He also drove in 106 runs in 2021.
Baez was part of the World Series winning Chicago Cubs in 2016 and also was a 2020 Gold Glove winner. He’s coming off a 31-home run, 87-RBI season last year with the Cubs and New York Mets.
Baez is Detroit’s leader in the AL MVP race to start the year. He is listed at +7000 to take home the award according to DraftKings Sportsbook MI.
Torkelson, Greene Rookie of the Year odds
Tigers fans are also eager to see what Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene will bring to the team.
Torkelson, the rookie first baseman, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft.
Greene, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2019 draft, is expected to be the centerfielder of the future for Detroit. However, his debut will have to wait due to a fractured right foot. Greene is expected to miss 6-8 weeks of the season.
Both men find themselves on the short list for AL Rookie of the Year heading into Opening Day. Torkelson is at +500 at FanDuel Sportsbook MI right now, while Greene is listed at +1500.
Greene’s injury likely pushed him further down the odds list.
Strong pitching rotation
Detroit got a good look at some of its young arms in 2021 and that bodes well for this season.
Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal should remain key pieces to the 5-man rotation following strong 2021 campaigns. Skubal posted 164 strikeouts over 149.1 innings, while Mize had a 3.71 ERA over 150.1 innings.
Eduardo Rodriguez and Michael Pineda were added in the offseason to give the rotation some balance.
Rodriguez, a lefty, is coming off a 13-8 record in 2021 with 185 strikeouts over 157.2 innings for the Boston Red Sox. Pineda is a veteran righty that was 9-8 with Minnesota last season with a 3.62 ERA over 109.1 innings.
Rodriguez is listed at +3000 to lead the league in strikeouts this season at BetMGM Michigan, while Skubal sits at +5000. Rodriguez is also listed at +4000 to win the AL Cy Young award.
Matt Manning and Tyler Alexander are returning arms that saw double-digit starts last year as well. Alexander had a 3.81 ERA to be among the team leaders.
The bullpen is always a bit of a mystery, but Detroit should feel good with Gregory Soto back at closer after 18 saves and seven holds a year ago. Michael Fulmer was revitalized last year out of the bullpen with 14 saves and a 2.97 ERA over 69.2 innings. He could play a major role this year as well.
Soto currently finds himself as +3000 at BetMGM to be the league’s save leader this season.