The 2021 Detroit Tigers have been the victims of quite a bit of bad luck throughout the year. From injury issues to a not-so-hot 9-22 start, they have really been dealt a poor hand by fate. Yet, here they sit, with their best record since 2016. How is that?
Well, it starts with the exceptional new coaching staff, led by Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch, and followed by pitching coach Chris Fetter and hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh. Under the new staff’s philosophy, these Tigers have shown the first signs of life following the long rebuild.
Then there is the player core, which started the season with some intriguing young players like Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, paired with some veterans overlooked by the rest of the league, like Julio Teheran and Derek Holland.
But the active roster now is most certainly not what could have been expected at the start of the season. Who could have guessed that Wily Peralta would be in the rotation at the start of the season? In their battle with the injury bug, the Tigers this season are playing next-man-up without a hint of hesitation.
Many Detroit Tigers have stepped up in big ways.
It all started when Julio Teheran went down with a season-ending injury after his first start. That opened the door for Alex Lange (34 IP, 36 strikeouts, 4.24 ERA, according to Baseball-Reference) to pitch in his first of four MLB stints this season.
The other major injuries were to starters, Matthew Boyd and Spencer Turnbull. Both were considered staff aces, with Turnbull having the season of his career, with a 2.88 ERA and 44 punchouts in 50 innings. Oh yeah, he also threw this gem on May 18th.
How do you replace these guys?
Well, let me tell you about Wily Peralta, Matt Manning, and Tyler Alexander, the 3 pitchers that have combined for 45 starts this season to make up the lion’s share of games missed between Boyd and Turnbull.
Wily Peralta is a 32-year-old starter that last pitched in Kansas City two years ago. He is posting career-bests in ERA, WHIP, and hits allowed per 9 innings. Matt Manning is a young pitcher with a lot of hype that has struggled to find his footing but has eaten crucial innings throughout the year.
Then there’s Tyler Alexander. This swiss-army knife of a pitcher has done it all, pitching in 39 games, starting 13, and finishing seven. He’s thrown 94 innings and been consistently good enough to win them ballgames. So good in fact, the Tigers are 10-3 in games that Alexander starts.
Overall, it has been a rollercoaster of a season for the Detroit Tigers. They have fought through injury adversity, a massive skid to start the season, and a powerful schedule of opponents. Yet, here they are, showing off the massive potential of both the players and this coaching staff.