The contestants: Jordan Zimmermann, Michael Fulmer, Matthew Boyd, Tyson Ross, Matt Moore, Daniel
Norris, Ryan Carpenter and Spencer Turnbull.
The skinny: Zimmermann and Fulmer come to camp healthy after offseason surgeries (core muscle and meniscus, respectively), and Boyd returns after being the club’s best starter in 2018. The Tigers signed Ross, a nine-year veteran coming off his first full season in three years, to a $5.75 million deal and he will be given every chance to stay in the rotation.
The battle: Barring injury, the real fight is for the final spot. Moore and Norris, a pair of left-handers, are the primary contestants entering camp. Moore, entering his ninth season, spent most of last season in the bullpen with the Rangers and has mostly floundered since his All-Star season in 2013. Norris, healthy after groin surgery curtailed his 2018 season, has a minor-league option left and could be on an innings limit this year. Turnbull, who made a strong first impression last season, and Carpenter are expected to start the season in Toledo. The wild card: Turnbull showed with his performance last September that his stuff and his temperament play at the big-league level. He could end up playing a big role with the Tigers.
The forecast: The Tigers likely will start the season with both Moore and Ross in the rotation. In a perfect world, one or both will be this year’s version of Mike Fiers — players on one-year deals who perform well enough to be flipped for prospects before the trade deadline. Theoretically, Moore and Norris could work out of the bullpen. But as you will see in the next item, it’s crowded there and the Tigers don’t have much depth in the rotation. end up being a competition too, between Greene and Jimenez. Other players may enter the bullpen fray, too, like right-handers Bryan Garcia (who is expected to return from Tommy John surgery in May), Zac Houston, Paul Voelker, John Schreiber and Chris Smith.
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire says competition will be healthier this spring than in his first camp.