July 7th, 2020 in Tigers
The Detroit Tigers will open the truncated 60-game season on the road, but not too far away. On Friday, July 24 the Tigers will kick off the 2020 season in Cincinnati against the Reds.
The following Monday, on July 27, the Tigers will host the Royals at Comerica Park in the annual Opening Day game that has become like a holiday in Detroit.
Challenges For The Tigers 2020 Schedule
Want to know if the Tigers will have a chance to shock the world in the short season? We should find out right away: the team plays 20 games in 20 days to start the 2020 season. Manager Ron Gardenhire will need to use kid gloves on his young, unproven pitching staff during that grueling stretch.
The challenges of a pandemic-shortened season won’t end with the 20 games in 20 days. After a day off, the Tigers will play on 20 straight days once again. That’s 40 games in 41 days, a struggle many teams will face in this historic 2020 baseball season!
Don’t wait for the Tigers to toss in the towel: every MLB team will churn through a similar grind this summer as baseball returns four months late due to COVID-19.
Could the Tigers get off to a good start and contend for a playoff spot? Detroit lost 310 games in the last three years, so it’s a longshot. But here’s a best-case scenario. Or call it a Detroit Tigers Championship Fantasy Dream for 2020.
Dates To Circle For The 2020 Season
- July 24: Detroit at Cincinnati for the opening game in the Queen City.
- July 27: Opening Day in Detroit as the Tigers host their rival, the Kansas City Royals.
- July 31: Former Tiger Nicholas Castellanos returns to the Motor City as the Tigers host the Reds.
- August 3-6: The Tigers have faced the Cardinals in the World Series three times (1934, 1968, and 2006). Over these four days in the first week in August, the two legendary franchises will play a four-game home-and-home series.
- August 24-26: The Cubs come to Detroit for a three-game series. The Cubbies are always a popular draw at Comerica Park.
- September 15: The Tigers begin their final homestand of the season with two-gamer against the Royals and four tilts against the division-rival Indians.
Home Is Where The W Is
The Tigers play 10 of their first 13 games at home in Motown, which could help them stay comfortable and jump out to a good start. No one knows how the game is going to respond to the cloud of COVID-19 that hangs over the game. With sporting events nationwide on hold for the first half of the year, it’s a historic season already. Several teams have players who are opting out of the season. These factors could make it a scramble for the expanded (16 team) playoffs in 2020.
Worried that an arm or two may fall off as the Tigers battle through all those games with only one day off early in the season? Well, the season begins with an expanded roster size of 30 players, which means Gardenhire will have plenty of options from his pitching staff. Expect the team to carry as many as 15 or possibly 16 pitchers in the first two weeks.
The Tigers interleague draw is the National League Central, which means the team will not travel to the west coast or east coast during the 66-day regular season. According to MLB.com, the Tigers will travel the third-fewest miles of any big league team. Another point in their favor.
How The Tigers Could Squeak Into The Playoff Race
All those home games early and the unpredictability of the season could allow marginal teams to slide into the playoff chase. Admittedly, a lot (and I mean a lot) would have to go right for that to happen for the Tigers. But here are five things that could (feasibly) allow the Tigers to challenge for a wild card or a division title in a short 60-game 2020 schedule:
- Former Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer returns to his glowing form.
- Miguel Cabrera, slimmed down, finds some of the old Triple Crown magic in his bat.
- Left-handed starter Daniel Norris finally harnesses his potential and teams with ace Matt Boyd to lead the rotation.
- Christin Stewart, JaCoby Jones, and veteran Cameron Maybin get off to good starts with the bats and fuel an improved Detroit offense.
- The man on second scores. (In 2020 season, extra-inning games will have a new wrinkle: every inning will start with a runner on second base. If the Tigers could find their way into lots of extra baseball, maybe they can capitalize on this rule change and improve their record in close games).
Well, we can dream, can’t we?
How It Could All Go Wrong
Last season the Tigers 5.24 ERA ranked 14th in the American League among 15 teams. Ouch. They surrendered 250 home runs, which means the outfielders did a lot of looking behind them. The worst-case scenario for 2020 is another shoddy performance by the Detroit pitching staff. Young prospects like Casey Mize are unlikely to arrive in Detroit until September as a late-season callup. Given the great pitching arms in the farm system, the calvary might be coming, but it’s not coming for a while.
View the 2020 Detroit Tigers Schedule on MLB.com.