Detroit Tigers opening day staff taking shape

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 24: Michael Fulmer
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 24: Michael Fulmer /

The Detroit Tigers and manager Ron Gardenhire are not giving anything away, but their 2018 pitching staff is starting to come into focus.

Detroit Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer is on course to be the team’s opening day starter. Friday against the New York Mets he had five strikeouts, and allowed only one earned run in three innings of work. The only factor that could derail this at this point seems to be the elbow issue that caused him to be a healthy scratch last Saturday. After the game, Fulmer’s reply when asked was: “I haven’t been told nothing.”

The Tiger’s manager, Ron Gardenhire, has been keeping his cards close to his vest throughout the spring regarding his opening day goals. He has replied to questions with answers like “Go ask Alexa.” When asked about Fulmer’s double negative response to the question Gardenhire responded “One hundred exactly what he just told you is exactly right. He hasn’t been told nothing.” The beat writers have done the math though.  At this point, if Fulmer pitches every fifth day, he is the opening day starter.

Joe Jiminez is also having a good spring. He appears to be on track to grab a bullpen role. To say that Jiminez had a bad year last year is understating the matter. The 23-year-old does not look like the same man right now. He has a career 12.32 ERA at the major league level. So far in the 2018 Grapefruit League, however, his ERA is 1.13 with 15 strikeouts in eight innings pitched.

The minor leagues are full of guys that play out of their minds in spring training. The question is whether he can keep up this production when it counts. Jiminez is a well-regarded player. He was one of’s featured top pitching prospects in 2016. It looks like a full-time role in the Tigers bullpen could be his for the taking in 2018.

Jiminez has the look of a future closer. He has a good fastball, nasty slider, and lower level dominance in the role. He saved 15 games at Western Michigan in 2015. Jiminez will be hoping to find himself on the Detroit Tigers opening day pitching staff.

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The Tigers announced a round of cuts on Friday. Right-handers Artie Lewicki and Zac Reininger are on their way to Triple-A Toledo. Right-handers Gerson Moreno and Spencer Turnbull head to Double-A Erie. Southpaw Gregory Soto drops to Class A (Advanced) Lakeland.