Opening Day is less than a week away and the Tigers and as geeked as I am for that, I can’t help but peek ahead at the month of April where the Tigers are going to be put to the test very early.
Detroit opens up a three game series with very dangerous Red Sox (90-72 in 2011) teams who had a historic collapse late last season, but were one of the better teams for most of 2011. The Sox are out to prove doubters wrong, but turmoil between new manager Bobby Valentine and ownership has already created headlines for the wrong reason (along with the ban of beer in the locker room).
Next is three day games at home against the Tampa Bay Rays (91-71), who is many experts dark horse in the AL with a strong young pitching staff and coming off a playoff appearance, winning the AL wild card last year and sneaking in past Boston. Oh, and it looks like we are lined up to see super prospect Matt Moore (#2 of the Pepper Top 100 Prospects for 2012) pitch the first game of the series.
The Tigers then take to the road to renew AL Central rivalries with the Chicago White Sox (79-83) and Kansas City Royals (71-91), both of which hope to rebound from down years in 2011. The White Sox organization is a bit of a mess, but I’m concerned with players rallying around new manager Robin Ventura just to spite Ozzie. The Royals have a very good young nucleus of hitters, but lack the pitching depth again this season.
The Tigers come back home to open up an April 19th series against the defending AL Champs, the Texas Rangers (96-66). Texas is looking to return for a third straight year to the World Series and has replaced starter C.J. Wilson with global prospect Yu Darvish (#4 on Pepper Top 100 Prospects).
Following the Rangers are the Seattle Mariners (67-95) who come to town with a very young team who will have offensive struggles throughout the year and a pretty young unproven pitching staff behind King Felix.
Wrapping up the month of April, is a trip to the Bronx to take on the Yankees (97-65) who were 52-29 at home last season.
In all the Tigers opponents for April had a .521% winning percentage in 2011 and if the Tigers make the playoffs will have a good chance at seeing almost all of them.