Detroit Tigers: Versatility a plus with absences piling up early on

(Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)
(Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Detroit Tigers have seen their roster change quite a bit already as the 2021 season has kicked off. The Tigers have seen their first baseman Miguel Cabrera head to the Injured List (IL) already with a bicep strain that has been an issue for the veteran in the past.

This means that Detroit Tigers have recalled Renato Núñez to fill the role as the team’s first baseman and designated hitter. But this is just one of the injuries that have already come about. For the pitching staff, Julio Teheran is experiencing issues and is now out for the foreseeable future.

To start the season, right-handed pitcher Spencer Turnbull tested positive for COVID-19 and has yet to make his 2021 debut in the Motor City. It may not be an injury decimation like that of the New York Yankees, who have nearly seen half their offense get wiped out along with arm injuries galore in some seasons.

However, the injuries have slowly begun accumulating, whether they are minor injuries or not. The Tigers are prepared for this, and having the ability to move players around and the added layer of versatility has been a blessing early on in 2021 for the team.

The Detroit Tigers have had to tap into their versatility early on in 2021 to combat the injuries.

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When it comes to pitchers, the team was anticipated to run a six-man rotation for the 2021 season, or at least to start.

With Turnbull being absent from the team as he battled COVID-19 and then has been rehabbing at the alternate training site, this did not happen.

Now that Turnbull is nearing his return, it seemed as if this might be a possibility.

Then Teheran sustains his injury, and the Tigers are no longer in position for that. But, having some versatility in their pitching staff allows them to fill gaps in the rotation.

For now, it will be Michael Fulmer, who is moving back into the rotation after being slated for a bullpen role as the 2021 season kicks off.

Fulmer is looking to earn a for-sure spot in the rotation but has not had the chance.

In 2021 so far, Fulmer has made three appearances, totaling seven innings, where he has a 2.57 ERA and a 0.57 WHIP. All three appearances have been out of the bullpen, but now he will join the rotation.

While the pitching staff looks to get healthy again, having the versatility with starters in the bullpen allows the Tigers to battle through adversity with ease.

When it comes to the Detroit Tigers offense, they have shown versatility as well early on.

Offensively, Cabrera’s injury leaves a hole on the right side of the field at first base and in the lineup. Cabrera has spent the 2021 season back over at first base but is now in the IL battling his bicep strain.

Besides having utility players like Niko Goodrum and Harold Castro, the Tigers have been moving players around and are going to battle Cabrera’s injury in that regard. Jonathan Schoop re-signed with the Tigers this offseason after playing the 2020 season in Detroit.

Schoop is being moved over to first base, which was talked about when he re-signed with the team this offseason. Besides that, the option to move Jeimer Candelario from third base over to first base is there as well. The recall of Renato Núñez also means he can play first base for the Tigers.

The moral of the story here is that the Tigers have options and will be able to adjust to the absences on both sides of the baseball. Having this ability is clutch for the team. While the team is rebuilding and it is not like this, versatility is a must to win games; it is nice to have.

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Hopefully, the injury bug stays away, and the few absences are all that amounts of it for the Tigers.