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Detroit will open the 2013 season as defending American League champions. San Francisco disposed of the Tigers in 4 straight World Series games leaving this squad hungry for revenge. They were simply out played in nearly ever facet of the game. So what's in store for '13?
2011 Cy Young winner Justin Verlander anchors Detroit's rotation. Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Sherzer fill out 2-4 slots. Second year man Drew Smyly looks like the favorite to nail down the final rotation spot and would be the teams only left handed starter. Just how far can these guys carry Detroit's title hopes remains to be seen. Big question marks remain for bullpen arms. Former closer (and still unsigned free agent) Jose Valverde was perfect in 2011 (49-49 in save opportunities). 2013 was a different story as he was terrible during September and the post-season. Closer duties are up for grabs this spring and nobody seems to be a front-runner at this time.
On offense, this might be one of the Tigers best lineups in recent memory. Triple Crown & AL MVP Miguel Cabrera and 1B slugger Prince Fielder are the headliners. Veteran Torii Hunter comes to town and takes over in RF. DH Victor Martinez returns after sitting out the entire 2012 season. DP combo of Infante & Peralta are clutch regular season performers. CF is anchored by rising star Austin Jackson. LF belongs to promising Andy Dirks. Runs should be plentiful.
Forecast: Bench depth might be an issue if starters get miss significant time with injuries. Starting rotation will need to go deep into games. Bullpen remains team weakness on paper. Detroit will win AL Central once again. However, if late inning pitching doesn't step up to protect leads then World Series hopes will remain on hold.