Here's the Tigers' Opening Day roster

March 28th, 2024

Matt Manning tossed 6 2/3 innings as part of a combined no-hitter for the Tigers last July. He posted a 0.94 WHIP in Spring Training, allowing one hit for every two innings he pitched and showed the swing-and-miss increase the Tigers wanted to see from him. And he will begin the season at Triple-A Toledo.

That’s a sign of how competitive the Tigers roster has become.

It’s not just the rotation. Ryan Kreidler showed the kind of offensive and defensive value that would put him in play for shortstop duty in some situations. Justyn-Henry Malloy showed the combination of power and plate discipline that would’ve earned the No. 8 prospect at least a platoon role in previous seasons. Beau Brieske tossed 13 2/3 scoreless innings on three hits for the spring. Drew Anderson struck out 14 batters over eight Grapefruit League innings while boosting his fastball to 98 miles per hour.

This is where the Tigers wanted to get in their talent buildup, where good young players are having to compete for opportunities. In many cases, they’re competing with other good young players.

“I feel like we’re getting more and more players that have a great case to be on our Major League team,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “And that’s a good thing. It’s not always good for players at the end of camp when they get sent down, but it makes for a better opportunity to have a winning season.”

With Tuesday’s moves to option Brieske to Triple-A Toledo and Miguel Diaz not making the team, the Tigers finalized their Opening Day roster ahead of Thursday's game against the White Sox.

Catcher (2): ,
The development of this group, especially on offense, was quietly one of the pleasant surprises of Spring Training. Rogers finished strong, homering in his final two games as he tries to become the first Tigers catcher with back-to-back 20-homer seasons since Mickey Tettleton in the early 1990s. Kelly, too, hit three homers while showing the offensive adjustments he made over the winter.

First base (1):
Torkelson went 7-for-48 for the spring but had a three-hit game with a 424-foot triple on March 23 and caught up with fastballs as the Grapefruit League went on, a similar trajectory to his Spring Training last year. He’ll likely get a few more games at DH with Miguel Cabrera retired, but he’ll play the vast majority of games at first.

Second base (2): ,
Keith spent much of Spring Training trying to find his timing but showed no signs of pressure after signing a long-term deal just before camp. He’s expected to get the majority of time at second base, but Ibáñez could get some starts against lefties as a way to get his productive bat in the lineup in favorable matchups.

Shortstop (1):
Báez had his Spring Training struggles, going 6-for-47 with two sacrifice flies, a walk and 14 strikeouts. However, he doubled his hit total over his final four games, including a pair of doubles to salvage some momentum going into the season. He showed signs of sticking with a more disciplined approach, but lapsed on occasion into chasing sliders out of the zone. His defense, however, is fine.

Third base (1):
The Tigers haven’t guaranteed Urshela an everyday role, potentially opening up playing time for Matt Vierling and Zach McKinstry here. But Urshela went on a tear over the final week and a half of camp, going 8-for-21 with four doubles over his final seven games.

Outfield (3): , ,
Meadows was arguably the hottest hitter of Tigers camp, and maybe one of the hottest of the Grapefruit League, batting .373 (19-for-51) with three doubles, a triple, four homers and six RBIs while tempering his strikeout rate. He put his speed to work with well-placed bunts and elite sprint speed (30.0 ft/sec) down the line. Greene had one home run in Grapefruit League play but hit 10 balls at Statcast-enabled parks with exit velocities at 101 mph or harder, half of them going for singles.

Designated hitter (1):
Carpenter slots into the lineup here, but he has shown enough defensively to earn time in the corner outfield spots, freeing up some DH starts to get others some rest from the field while keeping their bat in the lineup. Despite a delayed start due to a left hamstring strain, Carpenter had extra bases on six of his 11 hits in 39 at-bats, including three home runs.

Bench (2): ,
Hinch made clear over the final games of Spring Training that he plans to use this group and Ibáñez similar to last season, pinch-hitting aggressively to set up favorable matchups. Vierling could play in any of the outfield spots as well as third base, while McKinstry could play the corner outfield, middle infield and third.

Rotation (5): , , , ,
The Tigers couldn’t be any happier with how this competition played out, pushing Mize to do more than stretch out his innings in his return from Tommy John surgery. Olson beat out Manning with improved command and aggressive use of his changeup. Still, don’t be surprised to see Manning sooner than later if he shows a better grasp of his improved arsenal in Toledo.

Bullpen (8): , , , , , , ,
The last of the roster competition showed the depth of the pitching. Brieske had the strongest case to make it, having dominated in Spring Training in a variety of situations. But Faedo looked strong as well, armed with a new changeup and better command. Wentz struck out 19 batters over 15 1/3 innings this spring and pitched more aggressively than last year, including a fastball that plays better up in the zone. Wentz is also out of options and would have had to be designated for assignment if he didn’t make the Opening Day roster.