Detroit Tigers: 5 reasons you must watch Opening Day

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

The 2020 edition of the Detroit Tigers will be ready to hit the field at Great American Ballpark against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday at 6:10 PM EST.

Normally, the first game of the season for the Detroit Tigers can be associated with freshly-cut blades of grass, the magnetic smell of an overpriced hot dog, and the damp musk of spilled beer flooding both the pubs and streets of Detroit. One would best describe this setting by saying, “spring is in the air.”

Because of COVID-19, a worldwide pandemic that continues to oppress normal-everyday life in America, things will certainly be different this season and for the foreseeable future.

However, social guidelines and distancing standards shouldn’t negate the idea that there is plenty to be excited about as the Tigers finally return to action for Opening Day of what’s become a delayed and shortened Major League Baseball season. Here are five reasons you won’t want to miss Friday night’s game.

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1) Great American Ballpark will provide an exciting setting for Opening Day

Located in downtown Cincinnati, the “GABP” is a beautiful riverfront stadium equipped with an observation deck that draws distinct similarities to a floating riverboat.

It’s also a bandbox where baseballs disappear from regulation at an alarming rate.

Cincinnati’s lineup is expected to pack quite the punch, and the Tigers’ vets haven’t been shy about bringing out the “big dog” to eat during July exhibitions. Both clubs will be pumped to kick this season off and are likely to get their fill while swinging for the fences.

This ballpark is the polar opposite of Comerica Park, which will be a delight to witness as balls defy gravity and launch into orbit. Plus, who does not love a little interleague play? With all this year’s strange quirks, more interleague play is one thing fans will see.

2) Miguel Cabrera returns as the face of the team and is in fantastic shape

The Tigers’ first baseman’s weight may be down this summer, but his paychecks are still fat. Miguel Cabrera‘s contract pays him at least $30 Million annually, and he’s under club control until at least 2023.  With his once-fruitful home run swing now diminished, he’ll be asked to take on the role of clubhouse leader during his 13th season in Detroit.

His job will be to provide energy and display a professional approach at the plate while bridging the gap between old Tigers glory from the last decade and the team’s budding youth movement set to descend upon the Motor City eventually. Still, he remains a threat for a clutch hit at any given moment in time.

3) Two former Detroit Tigers play for Cincinnati and will add a layer of drama to the mix

Both Nicholas Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez are sure to be chomping at the bit to show the organization that drafted them just exactly what they are missing out on. Both are incredibly talented with a bat in their hands and were traded away at separate times to replenish the Tigers’ farm system for this current rebuild.

Suarez has clubbed 83 homers and drove in 207 runs in the last two seasons. By pairing him with Castellanos, who proved he too could be an impact bat after being traded to the Cubs last season at the deadline, the Reds have the potential to thump their way to an NL Central Division title this season. Did I mention contact-expert Joey Votto still plays for this team too?

4) Pitcher Matthew Boyd will take the mound as Detroit’s Opening Day starter

Matthew Boyd has shown steady improvement with each passing season dating back to his college days as a bullpen contributor at Oregon State. Last season, he displayed a nasty slider that produced a swing-and-miss rate of 43.6-percent.

Surely, he will leave a few Reds’ hitters looking foolish as batters only managed to hit .189 against the pitch in 2019. As long as he mixes in his other pitches and maintains superb command of his fastball, Boyd should limit the amount of Cincinnati swings that result in the baseball clearing the fences of GABP.

5) This winter’s veteran free-agent acquisitions bring a renewed approach and seasoned element to a rebuilding Detroit Tigers locker room

Catcher Austin Romine, Infielders C.J. Cron, and Jonathan Schoop, and Outfielder Cameron Maybin are expected to provide an offensive spark for a Tigers club that struggled to produce runs last season en route to finishing an abysmal 47-114 last season.

Keep your eyes peeled when Cron steps to the plate because he’s a low-key masher, and was a standout at Comerica the past few weeks during Summer Camp action. Also, don’t sleep on Schoop. He’s averaged 27 home runs per season during his seven-year career.

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Prediction: Cincinnati wins this slugfest 9-7, as Boyd gives up two homers to Suarez. Castellanos and Votto get big flies as well. Cron, Maybin, and Schoop all go yard for Detroit. Still, it’s not enough to keep up with the “meat” of the Reds lineup