Detroit Tigers 2023 Rotation and Catchers: They Have a Point to Prove


The Detroit Tigers’ 2023 rotation boasts several pitchers eager to silence their critics and prove their worth on the mound. Eduardo Rodriguez, having taken a personal leave, faces skepticism from fans questioning his ability to last a full season. Meanwhile, Matthew Boyd aims to bounce back from injury and demonstrate his value to the team.

Michael Lorenzen, a new free agent acquisition, is determined to establish himself as a bona fide starter in the league. Spencer Turnbull, another pitcher returning from injury, strives to showcase his pre-injury effectiveness. Rounding out the rotation are Matt Manning and Joey Wentz, both vying for a permanent spot. With Wentz stepping in for Lorenzen at the start of the season, he hopes to solidify his place, while Manning stands as the sole homegrown Tigers prospect in the rotation.

This is a rotation that none of the starters threw over 100 innings last season. The next question becomes, what does the depth look like down the road in Toledo? The importance of it is key, since injuries took a toll on the rotation in 2022.

Other names to look out for here are Garrett Hill and Beau Brieske. Both have been pitching out of the bullpen in spring and are down to the final spots on the Opening Day roster. One or both could start the season in the Mud Hens rotation. With the depth already being taxed a bit, it would benefit to have both of them starting.

Detroit Tigers Starting Pitching Depth (data courtesy of FanGraphs)

AAASPBeau BrieskeR25.0Drafted 27th Rd ’19
AAASP/RPReese OlsonR23.7Trade (MIL) Jul’21
AAASPAlex FaedoR27.4Drafted 1st Rd (18) ’17
AAASP/RPRony GarcíaR25.3Rule 5 (NYY) Dec’19
AAASPZach LogueL26.9Waivers (OAK) Dec’22
AAASP/RPAdam WolfL26.2Drafted 5th Rd (135) ’18
AAASPBrenan HanifeeR24.8Free Agent (BAL) Dec’22
AAASPWilmer FloresR22.1Non-Drafted FA Jul’20
AAASP/RPAshton GoudeauR30.7Free Agent (COL) Feb’23
AAASP/RPRicardo SánchezL26.0Free Agent (DET) Feb’23
AAASPAustin BergnerR25.9Drafted 9th Rd (262) ’19
AAASPChance KirbyR27.7Drafted 25th Rd ’18

One name to look out for is Wilmer Flores, who is the number three prospect according to MLB Pipeline and the Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year, has risen through the system quickly. He is working on his third pitch, which is a changeup to go along with a fastball and two types of sliders, one that has shorter sweeping that has good, sharp break action from right-handers. The other slider acts like a cutter.

Reese Olson, who was added to the 40-man roster, will start the season on the IL down in Toledo. The Tigers will take every precaution needed and with a series of minor league signings like Ricardo Sánchez and Ashton Goudeau starting the season in Toledo’s rotation, this will help with minor league depth.

One final name that is noteworthy is Chance Kirby. He was clutch down the stretch last season in Erie, as he held hitters to just .196 batting average. Hopefully, the trend continues in Toledo.

Tigers Catchers: The beard crew

Detroit showed their faith in Eric Haase this off-season as he continued to work on his game. In order for him to play regularly, he needs to hit righties better for average. He saw an uptick in batting average from the previous season against RHP (.204 vs .239) so that was a positive sign. He can hit lefties for average, but not nearly the same power numbers.

The same can be said for Jake Rogers. Rogers, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, has looked well behind the plate. His bat cooled down a bit as spring training came to a close.

Haase’s defense is a constant work in progress, and Detroit will need any advantage they can get from their backstops. Haase finished -6 in Catching Frame Runs. This is a measure of how many times a catcher can receive a pitch to get it called a strike. This stat, on Baseball Savant, breaks down the catcher’s view into eight zones around the strike zone and shows the called strike percentage of all non-swings in that zone. Rogers finished -3 before his season ending injury in 2021.

Depth wise, Donny Sands will start the season in Toledo. He came over in the Matt Vierling and Nick Maton deal. Dillon Dingler, who was sent down early in camp after Hinch gave him a game plan to work on, looks to regain his footing as one of the better prospects in the system.  Josh Crouch, who rose three levels last season, will more than likely start his first full season in Double-A Erie.