The Detroit Tigers got slaughtered by the New York Yankees on Saturday

4 overreactions to the Detroit Tigers beatdown in the spring training opener.

Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch holds a mound visit during the team’s Spring Training opener. / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers opened up the 2024 campaign once again. It’s that time of the year again when baseball is played, and the pro-ball guys are getting back in the saddle. With the 2024 season on the horizon, it’s great to hear the sounds of baseball being played again.

We’ve had boots on the ground in Lakeland all week long, and today, the team finally played a game against the New York Yankees. It’s Spring Training, so everything has to be taken with a grain of salt. However, some things stood out, both good and bad.

The Tigers and Yankees squared off in Lakeland to open up the team’s slate of spring training games. While it was good to see & hear baseball being played once again, things did not exactly go well. Detroit went out and got beat up on pretty badly. The Yankees had the bats working for them, and Detroit struggled to execute on the mound.

The good thing is, a 22-10 slaughter in Spring Training means nothing in the grand scheme of things. The score, at least, will mean little come Opening Day. But, after a week of practices, the team got back out on the field for the first time in an organized game.

Putting stock into the Spring Training opener may not hold much weight, but after game one, let’s talk through a couple of overreactions. These things stood out the most in the Tigers opener, even if it’s too early to be worrying or overly excited about this and that.

Overreaction #1: Reese Olson’s outing is telling but not like you’d expect.

The Detroit Tigers gave their opening day nod to Reese Olson. Well, the spring opener, at least. Olson’s got supreme stuff, with projectability remaining in the frame. There’s a ton to dream on, and it’s something well covered here at MCB, with our staff being high on the right-hander.

Olson came out working in the mid-90s with his usual slider. He hovered around 95-96 mph on the fastball, with his slider looking the part. The reports from the beat writers in Lakeland had Olson’s slider spinning above 3,000 RPMs. The metrics were there, but the results were not.

Olson threw 39 pitches with just 16 strikes on the day. Not the first outing many were hoping for as he battled through the first inning and was chased in the second inning due to pitch count. He finished the day with 1.2 innings pitched, walking three, hitting another, and striking out zero.

He allowed two runs and surrendered a hit. It was not the best outing for Olson, but this is spring ball. It’s the first outing of the spring, and pitchers are still ramping up. The stuff was on; a lack of command and ability to work around the zone left Olson in a tough spot.

The good news is that Olson’s got time to reset and get things started ahead of the 2024 season. I’m still expecting big things from Olson and one rough outing to start the spring is not enough to sway my confidence in him.

Overreaction #2: If Andy Ibáñez hits like he did today, he’ll be more than a depth player for the Detroit Tigers.

The Detroit Tigers only had a few quality at-bats today, but Andy Ibáñez’s two at-bats were both quality. He walked away 1-for-2 on the day but made the most of his swing with a home run. But he took some good at-bats top-to-bottom, and there’s something to be said about his approach at the plate.

He destroyed that home run today, being one of the producers in the Detroit Tigers lineup. He got the barrel on it, that’s for certain, being able to connect and drive the ball with a 103.9 mph exit velocity. It traveled 403 feet, and Ibáñez was able to be the first Tigers player to round the bases on a big fly this spring.

Ibáñez was excellent in his role with the Tigers in 2023, but there’s room for him to be more for this team moving forward. He was more than the Tigers were asking him to be, and that’s okay, but he’s looked this spring like he wants to be more for Detroit. He will keep pushing to be a more significant piece of the Tigers roster.

Ibáñez played in 114 games for the Tigers last year. He moved about the field, playing wherever the Tigers needed him to, plugging holes, and looking the part in the process. He slashed .264/.312/.433 with 23 doubles, two triples, and 11 home runs while driving in 43 runs. He walked 24 times and struck out 69 times over 356 at-bats.

He was exactly what the Tigers needed him to be, and maybe a little more. For Ibáñez, he’s looking to hold down a spot in 2024, and that’s going to come by producing a loud spring, and he seems to be on a mission to make that happen.

Overreaction #3: Mason Englert’s outing is a sign of bad things to come.

Conversely, to the comments about Olson’s outing NOT being a big deal, Mason Englert’s outing was even more gruesome for the Detroit Tigers. Englert got tagged pretty badly. He threw 2.0 innings, and while he did not issue any walks, as was the issue with Olson, he did struggle with keeping hitters off his stuff.

Englert certainly did not help the Detroit Tigers cause to try and climb back into this game. He gave up three hits, all of them being home runs. This included a mammoth of a home run hit by Spencer Jones. He hit the ball a reported 470 feet, according to the Statcast data, and it was an absolute moonshot.

The Tigers saw Englert throw 25 pitches, and while 19 were strikes, three landed well beyond the outfield fence. The former Rule 5 Draftee settled in with the Tigers last season, where the longball was a problem. The year’s first outing is certainly not looking good for correcting that.

Englert pitched in 31 games for the Tigers in 2023, where he accumulated 56.0 innings pitched. He managed a 5.46 and 1.50 WHIP while walking 17 and striking out 41 opposing hitters. He also allowed 12 home runs last year, working on the Tigers pitching staff after his Rule 5 Draft selection.

It’s Spring Training, so there’s time to work on things, but that first outing where Englert gave up three runs is not the best way to start off a season. He has time to fix things but needs to get back on track before Opening Day; if not, the long ball will be a problem for him again in 2024.

Overreaction #4: Colt Keith needs more time.

This one feels like a cop-out, but the Detroit Tigers threw Colt Keith into the fire, hitting him third in the lineup in his big-league spring training debut after his big extension. He picked up one hit but took some really bad swings in his other at-bats. It’s worrisome, but then again, it’s Spring Training, and there were likely some jitters for him during today’s game.

The cop-out for me is that I’m invested in Keith for the long term. He’ll hit well, and after his extension, there’s no reason not to bring him north with the team and get his big-league career underway. So, suggesting he needs more time seems silly, but the “more time” will also be the rest of Spring Training.

Keith took a couple of rough hacks in an earlier at-bat before punching out. He swung through a few fastballs. The swing itself will work, so it’s jitters, but he needs time in game situations to work out those jitters now. He finished the day 1-for-2 with a 2-RBI double and two punchouts.

There’s plenty to like in the long term with Keith, and I’m buying stock in him after Spring Training. We’ll see what happens, but after the first game full of at-bats, it looks like he could use a little bit more “seasoning” and time. The long-term value is there, and there’s a lot to like moving forward, so don’t fret quite yet, but that’s an overreaction from Saturday’s slaughter.

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