2021 Detroit Tigers
The Tigers finished last in the AL Central in back-to-back seasons. Over this span, they won 70 of their 229 games. Detroit had the worst pitching staff in baseball (5.63 ERA) in 2020 while ranking 23rd in run scored (249). On the positive side, the core of their team continues to get younger.
In the offseason, Detroit signed three players – 2B Jonathan Schoop, OF Nomar Mazara, OF Robbie Grossman, 1B Renato Nunez, C Dustin Garneau, C Wilson Ramos, and SP Jose Urena. The Tigers moved on from 1B C.J. Cron and C Austin Romine.
The franchise's future lies in developing an electric group of starting arms (Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning). Mize and Skubal gained experience in the majors in 2020, but both players failed to live up to their hype.
The starting rotation lacks front line starters, while their young arms will have limited innings this season. Matthew Boyd is more of a trade piece if his season starts well. Jose Urena should give Detroit some good innings as long as he can stay healthy.
With Joe Jimenez turning into a wood tick in the closing role, the Tigers bullpen continues to look for the right structure to bridge games from the seventh to the ninth inning.
Their batting order doesn’t have one impact player, and the next tier of superstars haven’t been drafted yet.
2021 is going to be another long year. If their young pitchers show growth and success, Detroit will have flipped the needle back in an upward direction. Their next step is finding a young nucleus of the batting order.
1. OF Victor Reyes
When looking at these short-season stats from 2020, a fantasy owner needs to translate a lot of data when trying to figure out if a player had growth.
Over the last two seasons with the Tigers, Reyes had almost a full season of at-bats (478). He hit .293 over this stretch with 59 runs, seven home runs, 39 RBI, and 17 steals. His production isn’t quite ready to be an impactful player in the fantasy world. His success in 2020 projected over 550 at-bats works out to 77 runs, 10 home runs, 36 RBI, and 21 steals. In essence, Reyes only improved in his ability to score runs.
His average hit rate (1.411) points to no upside in power. He has a low fly-ball swing path (26.1 percent in his career – 28.4 in 2020), but he did have the highest HR/FB rate (9.1) of his career.
Reyes hit .299 over 2,348 at-bats in the minors with 22 home runs, 314 RBI, and 90 stolen bases over seven seasons. His approach at the plate (strikeout rate – 21.4 and walk rate – 3.9) with the Tigers isn't high enough at this point in his career to offset his low output in power and limited upside in speed.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Based on his ADP (204), Reyes looks overpriced as his only chance to help a fantasy team looks to be in batting average and steals. His power is miles away from becoming relevant. His only saving grace is the Tigers should give him plenty of at-bats while batting in a favorable part of the batting order. Think .290 with 70 runs, 10 home runs, 50 RBI, and 20 steals.
2. SS Willi Castro
Castro comes into 2021 with an intriguing combination of power and speed. Over six seasons in the minors, he hit .273 with 41 home runs, 259 RBI, and 99 steals over 2,386 at-bats. His bat made a step forward in 2019 at AAA (.301 with 11 home runs, 62 RBI, and 17 stolen bases over 465 at-bats).
Last year the Tigers gave him starting at-bats, leading to a .349 batting average with six home runs and 24 RBI over 129 at-bats. His CTBA (.495) with Detroit was well above his career path in the minors. Castro did have a high strikeout rate (27.1) in the majors (18.3 percent in the minors) while barely taking any walks (5.0 percent).
Castro finished with the highest HR/FB rate (20.7) in his career at any level by a wide margin. He has more of a line drive swing with a low fly-ball rate (31.2).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Castro projects closer to a league-average hitter in batting average while trending toward a 15/20 type player. Batting average tends to inflate a player's draft value, which may be the case in 2021 (ADP – 249). Detroit should give him an everyday opportunity this season. Castro did finish 2020 with a sore right shoulder that didn’t require surgery.
3. Robbie Grossman
Despite being a switch hitter with a good approach (strikeout rate – 20.9 and walk rate – 12.6), Grossman has been unable to find a full time starting job in the majors. He’s never had over 420 at-bats in a season or even been considered a viable starting player in the fantasy world other than leagues with daily moves.
Grossman saw a spike in his average hit rate (2.000) in 2020 that put him on a path for 24 home runs with 500 at-bats. His batting average has been a liability in three of his past four seasons, highlighted by an empty contact batting average (.310, .302, and .313).
He hit .271 in his career against left-handed pitching compared to .246 vs. righties. His success last season came while batting left-handed (.260 with eight home runs and 22 RBI over 146 at-bats).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: The Tigers should have him in the lineup every day vs. right-handed pitching, and his approach puts him in the top third of the batting order. When adding his bump in stolen bases in 2019 (9) and 2020 (8), Grossman could be a sneaky bench option with short-term injury replacement value. He can’t play every day unless his bat improves against left-handed pitching.
4. DH Miguel Cabrera
It is debatable if Cabrera was a value in 2020 when considering his ADP was higher than 345 in most leagues in the high-stakes market.
His strikeout rate (22.1) was his highest since his rookie season in 2003 (24.3 – 17.3 in his career). Cabrera finished with weakness in his average hit rate (1.667) and contact batting average (.333). Surprisingly, his hard-hit rate (49.4) was the 16th highest in baseball.
Cabrera drilled lefties (.400 with two home runs and eight RBI over 35 at-bats), but he lost his way against right-handed pitching (.219 with eight home runs and 27 RBI over 169 at-bats).
In September, he saved his season in power (five home runs and 15 RBI over 123 at-bats), but Cabrera had to open up his swing (nine walks and 28 strikeouts). His fly-ball rate (31.6) has been low over the past four seasons.
Cabrera needs 134 hits to reach 3,000 and 13 home runs to achieve the 500 milestone.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: When looking at his last four seasons (.267 with 41 home runs and 176 RBI over 1,300 at-bats), a fantasy owner can see that he is a shell of his once greatness. The Tigers don’t have a great starting lineup, which creates fewer run and RBI chances. Last year Cabrera came into spring training in better shape, but we never saw him play at a high level. He still has a chance to hit .270 with 70 runs, 25 home runs, and 80 RBI, which works for his current ADP (528).
5. 2B Jonathan Schoop
In his first year with the Tigers, Schoop was on pace for 94 runs, 29 home runs, and 83 RBI with a full season of at-bats when adding back his 15 games missed over the back half of September with a right wrist injury.
His contact batting average (.366) pushed higher of the second straight season while maintaining a high average hit rate (1.711).
Schoop has a fading RBI rate (12). His strikeout rate (22.0) tends to be slightly higher than the league average, with minimal walks (4.5 percent).
He finished with a career-high in his HR/FB rate (21.1) but a weaker swing path (51.2 percent ground balls – 45.1 in his career) and a light-hitting hard-hit rate (33.3).
Over the last five seasons, Schoop hit .266 with 322 runs, 109 home runs, and 330 RBI over 2,305 at-bats.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: A viable power cheat at second base while trending toward weakness in his runs and RBI. Schoop has a 20-plus home run swing with some batting average risk. His ADP (387) puts him in the free-agent pool in 12-team leagues.
6. 1B Jeimer Candelario
After two disappointing seasons with the Tigers, Candelario regained a bounce in his swing in 2020. He had a massive jump in his contact batting average (.404), but his strikeout rate (23.8) remained in a weak area.
Over nine seasons in the minors, Candelario doesn't have a great resume. He hit .272 over 3,007 at-bats with 80 home runs, 466 RBI, and eight steals. His walk rate (10.7) is an area of strength with a strong average strikeout rate (17.4). His bat did show growth over four seasons at AAA (.297 with 33 HRs and 159 RBI over 832 at-bats), plus he handled himself well over 38 games in the majors in 2017 (.283 with three home runs and 16 RBI over 127 at-bats).
In 2018, his strikeout rate (25.9) came in much higher than expected with Detroit while still maintaining his walk rate (10.7), but he did show growth in power (.224 with 78 runs, 19 home runs, and 54 RBI over 539 at-bats). In 2019, Candelario lost his way, which led to a lousy season (.203 with eight HRs and 32 RBI over 335 at-bats) with a similar approach (strikeout rate – 25.7 and walk rate – 11.1).
Last year Candelario played well against lefties (.400 with two home runs and eight RBI over 40 at-bats). He finished with a lower fly-ball rate (34.1), but his HR/FB rate (15.2) was a career-high.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Candelario was on a path for 75 runs, 20 home runs, and 75 RBI with 550 at-bats in 2020. His ceiling isn’t explosive, but his game has enough components to offer a playable corner infielder based on his ADP (261).
7. C Wilson Ramos
After two steady seasons with a combined .296 batting average, 29 home runs, and 143 RBI over 855 at-bats, Ramos came up short last year. He posted a five-season low in his contact batting average (.306) while struggling with runners on base (RBI rate – 12).
His contact batting average (1.618) fell in a range of his recent peaks and valleys. Ramos continues to have a ground ball swing (52.7 percent) with a fading HR/FB rate (15.2).
He doesn’t take many walks (6.5 percent) while seeing a regression in his strikeouts rate (20.0).
Last year he was on pace for 35 runs, 14 home runs, and 41 RBI over 383 at-bats.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Ramos won’t help in the run category. He hits a lot of ground balls, but his swing does offer midteen power with 450 at-bats. Ramos can surprise in batting average despite his slow foot speed. His ADP (266) makes him a C2 in 12 and 15 team formats.
8. OF Nomar Mazara
Mazara started last season on the injured list with what appeared to be a battle with Covid. After missing nine days, his bat never had a pulse. He finished with a jump in his strikeout rate (29.5), which was his fourth straight season of regression.
In 2019, Mazara was on pace for 88 runs, 24 home runs, and 85 RBI if he didn’t miss most of the season's final six weeks with oblique and thumb injuries.
He did have growth in 2019 in his average hit rate (1.748) and contact batting average (.358), with strength in his RBI rate (17) in his career.
Mazara struggled against left-handed pitching (.220), but he did have six home runs and 20 RBI over 127 at-bats.
Other than batting average (.261), he helped fantasy teams before the All-Star break (50 runs, 12 home runs, and 49 RBI).
His HR/FB rate (17.8) plays well once Mazara adds more loft to his swing (fly-ball rate – 32.7 in 2019 and 30.8 in his career).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: I’ll call him a neutral four-category hitter (.270 with 75 runs, 25 home runs, and 80 RBI) with more value if he hits higher in the batting order.
9. 3B Renato Nunez
Over the last two seasons with Baltimore, Nunez hit .247 with 101 runs, 43 home runs, and 121 RBI over 736 at-bats. He was on pace for 78 runs, 32 home runs, and 84 RBI over 527 at-bats in 2020.
His power was supported by his 2017 season at AAA (32 home runs) along with his success in his average hit rate (1.886).
Nunez offered about the same resume at AAA (.249 with 60 home runs and 182 RBI over 1,207 at-bats) with a similar strikeout rate (23.5) than his path in 2019 in the majors (23.9 – 29.6 in 2020).
Most of his power came against right-handed pitching (29 home runs over 495 at-bats over the last two years).
Nunez has a rising fly ball swing path (46.3 percent) while setting a career-high in his HR/FB rate (20.3).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: A pure basher with batting average risk. Nunez will get plenty of at-bats, but he tends to be streaky. Possible 30 home runs with a full-time job.
C Grayson Greiner
Greiner had a chance to compete for the starting catching job in Detroit in 2019, but his bat wasn’t ready. Last year he only hit .118 with three home runs and eight RBI over 51 at-bats.
Over six seasons in the minors, he hit .245 with 32 home runs and 150 RBI over 1,286 at-bats. His power started to take a step forward in 2017 at AA (14 home runs and 42 RBI over 328 at-bats), but his resume looks empty at AAA (.250 with six HRs and 29 RBI over 224 at-bats) while looking lost in the majors in his short career (.194 over 355 at-bats with eight home runs and 39 RBI).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: His strikeout rate (30.9) needs plenty of work. Greiner may develop power, but I don’t trust him. The Tigers didn’t either, which is why they signed Wilson Ramos.
2B Niko Goodrum
Based on his struggles last season (.184 with five home runs, 20 RBI, and seven steals over 158 at-bats), Goodrum looks closer to a bench role than a full-time starter in 2021. His strikeout rate (38.6) was off the chart high while rising each year in the majors. He will take walks (10.1 percent).
Goodrum saw a decline in his contact batting average (.326), which may have come from his desire to hit more fly-balls (45.7 percent – 31.5 in 2019). His HR/FB rate (11.9) regressed for the second straight year.
Over his three seasons with the Tigers, Goodrum hit .237 with 33 home runs, 118 RBI, and 31 steals over 1,025 at-bats.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Goodrum is nothing more than a flier as a bench player in deep leagues. His batting average risk is real, which means fewer at-bats. Goodrum can be streaky, so he may work as a short-term injury replacement.
2B Harold Castro
Castro drifted through the minors for nine seasons (.278 with 15 home runs, 224 RBI, and 109 SBs over 2,596 at-bats) before getting his chance with the Tigers in 2019.
His season started with success at AAA (.328 with four home runs, 25 RBI, and one steak over 122 at-bats). Castro earned starting at-bats with Detroit after the All-Star break (.291 with four home runs and 29 RBI over 251 at-bats).
Over limited at-bats (49) in 2020, Castro hit .347 with no home runs and three RBI.
He has a ground ball swing (52.1 percent) with minimal loft (fly-ball rate – 22.7) and a low HR/FB rate (3.5 or under every in the minors before 2019 and 7.0 with the Tigers).
His strikeout rate (22.9) is too high for his skill set, with emptiness in his walk rate (3.2).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Castro is only a utility option with no real upside in power or speed.
3B Isaac Paredes
Over four seasons in the minors, Paredes hit .274 with 40 home runs, 232 RBI, and 13 steals over 1,541 at-bats. He played well over two seasons at AA (.291 with 16 home runs, 88 RBI, and six stolen bases over 609 at-bats). His approach (strikeout rate – 12.8 and walk rate – 9.2) looks major league-ready.
Even with no career at-bats at AAA, the Tigers gave Paredes 100 at-bats in 2020. He finished with weakness in his contact batting average (.289) and average hit rate (1.318).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Paredes may need a half-season at AAA, but he is one of Detroit's top hitting prospects. He projects to hit for average with a plus approach. With more experience, his power will offer much more upside. Paredes is a player to follow this spring while providing more value to dynasty players in 2021.
OF Jacoby Jones
Jones had a tough time making contact in his four years in the majors, which led to him striking out 347 times in 993 at-bats (31.5 percent). He did improve his strikeout rate to 28.2 in 2019 with growth and his walk rate (8.1), but he gave away his gains in 2020 (31.5 percent strikeout rate).
Over the last three seasons, Jones hit .225 with 27 home runs, 74 RBI, and 21 stolen bases over 824 at-bats.
His contact batting average (.351) improved for the second straight season, and his average hit rate (1.923) continues to rise.
Jones took a pitch to his left hand in early September, which led to surgery and a lost final four weeks of the season.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Jones has many warts in his game, but there are signs of getting better. To reach a higher level, he needs to make better contact. Jones had 25/10 upside with a full season of at-bats (it doesn’t seem likely) if he doesn’t whiff his way to the bench.
OF Daz Cameron
After struggling in his first two seasons in the minors (.232 over 331 at-bats with two home runs, 37 RBI, and 36 stolen bases), Cameron looked much more relevant in 2017 (.271 with 14 home runs, 74 RBI, and 32 steals over 454 at-bats) and 2018 (.264 with eight home runs, 61 RBI, and 24 steals over 473 at-bats).
Unfortunately, his bat regressed in 2019 at AAA (.214 with 13 home runs, 43 RBI, and 17 stolen bases over 448 at-bats). In his first experience in the majors last season, he hit only .193 with no home runs and three RBI over 57 at-bats.
His walk rate (10.2) was an edge in the minors, but he still strikes out too much (25.8). The Tigers drafted him 37th overall in 2015 in the MLB June Amateur Draft.
Over the winter, Cameron suffered a right arm injury while playing winter ball.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: With no success at AAA and the majors in his career, Cameron will only find his way on fantasy rosters via the waiver wire. His speed would be helpful while adding some power.
Eric Haase (C): Haase came to the Tigers in the offseason in 2019 via a trade with the Indians. Over nine seasons in the minors, he hit .243 with 130 home runs, 399 RBI, and 15 stolen bases over 2,529 at-bats.
His power is massive based on his play at AAA (49 HRs and 133 RBI over 789 at-bats), but he hit .232 with a losing strikeout rate (32.4). Haase only has six hits in 49 at-bats with one home run, six RBI, and 20 strikeouts over three seasons in the majors.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Haase will try to win a backup catching role in 2021 for Detroit.
Jake Rogers (C): Rogers hit .242 over 1,185 at-bats in the minors with 52 home runs, 194 RBI, and 22 steals. He struggled at AAA (.223 with nine home runs and 31 RBI over 166 at-bats) while also coming up short with Detroit in 2019 (.125 with four home runs and eight RBI over 112 at-bats).
In the majors, Rogers struck out 39.8 percent of the time.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: His swing miss approach limits his chance to get at-bats with the Tigers. Rogers will need home runs while also offering sneaky speed.
1. SP Matt Boyd
Boyd showed growth in two different areas in 2018 and 2019, but he still finished with a combined 4.48 ERA over 63 starts.
Two years ago, he set a career-best in batting average against (.228 – .247 in 2019 and .259 in his career). His improvement in 2019 came via his strikeout rate (11.6 – 8.4 in 2018 and 8.8 in his career).
Last season Boyd allowed four runs or more in six of his 12 starts, leading to an embarrassing 6.71 ERA and 1.475 WHIP. He led the American League in home runs allowed in 2019 (39 over 185.1 innings) and 2020 (15 over 60.1 innings). Both his walk rate (3.3) and strikeout rate (9.0) fell short of his breakthrough in 2019 (2.4 and 11.6).
His AFB (92.0) came in below 2019 (92.5 MPH). All three of his secondary pitches (changeup – .250 BAA, slider – .229 BAA, and curveball – .133 BAA) were assets while offering a losing four-seam fastball (.316 BAA with eight home runs allowed over 114 at-bats).
Over the last four seasons, Boyd went 27-43 with a 4.92 ERA and 567 strikeouts over 551 innings.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: The luster of Boyd having a breakthrough appears to be over unless he somehow finds a new home in a pitcher’s park. Home runs lead to too many disaster innings. With an ADP of 297, there is less risk in taking him for a short-term dance. Viable late flier for strikeouts.
2. SP Jose Urena
After pitching well in 2017 and 2018 for Miami (23-19 with a 3.90 ERA and 243 strikeouts over 343.2 innings), Urena struggled with injuries over the last two seasons.
He had three disaster games (15 runs and 29 baserunners over 13.2 innings with ten strikeouts) to start 2019. Urena pitched outstandingly over his next nine starts (2.95 ERA and 39 strikeouts over 58 innings). After a poor showing on June 7th (six runs and 12 baserunners over three innings), he landed on the injured list for 12 weeks with a back injury (herniated disk). Miami moved him into the closer role in September, but his arm had too many blow-up games (9.00 ERA and 1.700 WHIP over ten innings with 11 Ks). Urena converted three of his five save chances.
In 2020, his season started with a trip to the injured list with Covid. Urena struggled over five starts in September (5.40 ERA) while batting his command (13 walks over 23.1 innings) and home runs (4). He took a line drive to his right foreman in his last start that led to a fracture.
His AFB (96.0) is better than his career strikeout rate (6.1) represents. Both his slider (.182 BAA) and changeup (.000 BAA) had success in 2020.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: With no help in strikeouts and Detroit possibly hanging him out to dry in some starts, Urena looks undraftable even with underlying upside. His ADP (587) puts him in the free-agent pool in almost all fantasy formats.
3. SP Spencer Turnbull
Despite a slow path through the minors, Turnbull posted a 3.56 ERA and 410 strikeouts over 427.1 innings over six seasons.
He came into 2019 with only two career starts at AAA (three runs over 19 strikeouts over 13.1 innings). After his first start (no runs over 3.2 innings with seven strikeouts) in the minors, the Tigers called him up.
His stuff held up surprisingly well over his first 14 starts (2.78 ERA and 73 strikeouts over 77.2 innings). After a bad start on June 16th (six runs and 12 baserunners over five innings with four strikeouts), Turnbull posted a 6.30 ERA and 69 strikeouts over his final 15 starts.
In 2020, Turnbull had a regression in his command (4.6 walks per nine). Even so, his ERA (3.97) showed growth, and batters hit only .226 against him. He allowed three runs or fewer in nine of his 11 starts.
His AFB (94.0) came in above the league average. Turnbull had success with his four-seam fastball (.198 BAA), slider (.151 BAA), and changeup (.222 BAA).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Turnbull doesn’t throw enough strikes to be trusted as an every-week starter in the season-long games. WHIP is going to be a problem until he cleans up his walk rate. His ADP (367) only has bench value while possibly working at times a double starter.
4. SP Tarik Skubal
Skubal can’t match the top two arms (Casey Mize and Matt Manning) in the Tigers system in draft value, but he finished with a better year in 2019 (2.42 ERA and 179 strikeouts over 122.2 innings).
His rise to stardom came via growth in his command (walk rate – 2.7) and an electric strikeout rate (13.1).
In his final year in college, he walked 6.3 batters per nine, pushing him to the ninth round in the 2018 MLB June Amateur Draft.
The Tigers gave him eight appearances in 2020, leading to a crooked ERA (5.63) while offering a more favorable WHIP (1.219). Most of his downside and failure came from nine home runs allowed over 32 innings (all came against right-handed batters).
Skubal averaged 94.8 MPH with his fastball. Batters struggled to hit his slider (.185 BAA) and changeup (.231 BAA).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: There is a great arm here, and it may come quickly. Skubal needs to locate his fastball better in the strike zone and his overall command. There will be off nights, but he looks to be a value based on his early ADP (343). Possible 3.50 ERA with 150 strikeouts with 30 starts with Detroit.
5. SP Casey Mize
In the summer of 2019, Mize looked like a lock to make the Tigers' rotation after allowing eight runs and 41 hits over his first 75.2 innings in the minors. He posted a 0.95 ERA and .159 BAA with 11 walks and 73 strikeouts while winning eight games with no losses over this span. Mize landed on the injured list in mid-June with a right shoulder issue. When he returned to the mound in July, his stuff lost value (6.61 ERA, .292 BAA, and 1.564 WHIP).
Over his final two seasons at Auburn, Mize went 18-8 with a 2.77 ERA, 25 walks, and 265 strikeouts over 198.1 innings. Detroit drafted him first overall in 2018.
Detroit called him up in mid-August, drawing excitement in fantasy leagues. Unfortunately, Mize failed to make an impact in any of his seven starts. Home runs (seven over 28.1 innings) were a massive problem while failing to live up to his career path in command (4.1 walks per nine).
His AFB (94.0) was better than the league average, but most of his pitches let him down.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Mize has the foundation in pitches and command to offer ace upside. Fantasy owners need to have a short memory this draft season. His ADP (358) is just about free when considering his ceiling. His spring training news will be critical to his 2021 opportunity on Detroit’s starting rotation. His messy stats will keep some fantasy owners off of him.
SP Matt Manning
The Tigers drafted Manning with the ninth overall pick in the 2016 June MLB Amateur Draft. His stuff has progressively got better with each year of experience in the minors.
In 2019, he made 24 starts at AA, which led to an 11-5 record with a 2.56 ERA and 148 strikeouts over 133.2 innings. Manning finished the best walk rate (2.6) of his career, but his strikeout rate (10.0) came in lower than his career average. The Tigers decided not to call him up last season.
Over four seasons in the minors, he has a 3.04 ERA and 410 strikeouts over 331.2 innings.
Manning brings to the table a mid-90s fastball and a plus curveball. His changeup should develop into a winning piece to his arsenal in the majors.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: With 133.2 innings under his belt in 2019, Manning looks poised to reach the majors this season while starting at AAA. His early January ADP is 481. Must follow this spring while offering buy and hold upside.
SP Michael Fulmer
Fulmer's excitement faded over the last couple of seasons due to regression in his success and multiple injuries.
He threw the ball well over his first 10 starts in 2017 (5-3 with a 2.65 ERA and 54 strikeouts over 68 innings), but his arm started to lose momentum in June and July (4.48 ERA and 46 strikeouts over 72.1 innings) before landing on the IL in early August with an elbow issue. After missing two weeks, he struggled over his last four starts of the season (5.18 ERA and 14 Ks over 24.1 innings). The Tigers shut him down in September, leading to surgery to fix an issue with his ulnar nerve in his right elbow.
In 2018, Fulmer was able to make his first start of the year for the Tigers. His stuff came in below his previous success when healthy over his first 18 starts (4.18 ERA and 91 strikeouts over 107.1 innings) while struggling walks (3.0 per nine) and home runs (12). A disaster start on July 14th (seven runs and 12 baserunners over 4.2 innings) led to six weeks on the injured list with an oblique issue. When he returned to the mound, Fulmer posted a 5.75 ERA over his last 20.1 innings with five home runs allowed.
A right knee injury that required surgery in September of 2018 was part of his failure. In 2019, Fulmer finally blew out his right elbow, which led to TJ surgery in March. Last season his arm had no value in his 10 low-inning starts (8.78 ERA and 2.060 WHIP).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Fulmer doesn’t belong in the starting rotation while being tons of risk. At this point in his career, Detroit hopes for some innings to save their bullpen.
CL Gregory Soto
After an impressive season (12-2 with a 2.25 ERA and 144 strikeouts over 124 innings) as a starter in the minors in 2017, Soto pitched his way to the bullpen in 2018 (4.45 ERA) and 2019 (5.31 ERA).
The Tigers gave him 33 appearances in the majors in 2019. Soto battled his command (5.2 walks per nine), leading to a disaster ERA (5.77 ERA) and WHIP (1.855).
In 2020, his strikeout rate (11.3) moved into an elite area, but Soto still walked 5.1 per nine innings. Batters only hit .193 against him while dominating lefties (two hits in 21 at-bats with 11 strikeouts).
His AFB (97.2) is elite while being a sinker, which is more impressive. Soto didn’t allow a hit off his slider over 82 pitches.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Soto isn’t built to close at this point of his career, but his top two pitches can be electric with better command. His second strike is that he is a lefty with minimal experience pitching in the ninth inning. Only a flier if he’s throwing strikes while having a free ADP (510) in the high-stakes market.
RP Joe Jimenez
Jimenez drew some attention in the 2020 draft season as possible value closer. He looked the part after his first four appearances (one run over four innings with two strikeouts and four saves).
Over his next 13 appearances, Jimenez allowed 18 runs, 23 baserunners, and seven home runs over 11 innings. His season ended with 7.2 shutout innings with seven strikeouts.
His AFB (94.6) was the lowest of his career. Jimenez has a winning slider (.167 BAA), but his changeup (6-for-8 with two doubles and one home run) left the building.
Jimenez went 10-14 with a 4.78 ERA, 182 strikeouts, and 17 saves over 145 innings.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Frustrating arm that needs to work his way from a setup role back to the ninth inning. Jimenez continues to battle his weight (272 LBS.), which shows his lack of commitment. Only a bench flier based on his ADP (591).
RP Beau Burrow
The Tigers selected Burrows in the 1st round of the 2015 MLB June Amateur Draft. Over five seasons in the minors, he has a 30-26 record with a 3.61 ERA and 433 strikeouts over 468.1 innings.
His stuff did lose value over 41 starts at AA in 2017 and 2018 (4.38 ERA) due to a fade in his walk rate (3.8) with more regression at AAA (4.84 ERA) in 2019. He missed sometime late in 2019 due to an oblique injury.
The Tigers gave him five relief appearances in 2020, but Burrow was unimpressive (four runs, nine base runners, and three home runs over 6.2 innings with three strikeouts).
His AFB (93.2) was league average while relying on a slider/changeup combination.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: His most significant obstacle in getting to the majors is throwing more strikes (walk rate – 4.4 in 2019 and 3.4 in his career). Burrow looks destined to work in the bullpen early in his career. He has a lot to prove, which will come with more experience.
2021 Fantasy Baseball Team Outlooks