Spring training is a time for teams and players to prep … not panic. And while there is certainly no cause for major concern at this point — not when regulars still are playing just a few innings each day — it’s worth noting that problems that plagued three contenders last season seem to popping up again.
Worth tracking over the next three-plus weeks:
USA TODAY SportsRick Scuteri
Tigers' rotation struggles
Detroit starters not named Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer posted a collective 5.13 ERA last season. Things look eerily similar this spring — only the problem has spread to the entire staff. After Monday’s loss, which featured Mike Pelfrey getting knocked around, manager Brad Ausmus didn’t hide his frustration. “The way we’ve pitched has been awful,” Ausmus said, via the Detroit Fress Press.
The Tigers lead the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues with 54 walks this spring (through Monday). There is plenty of time to work though these control issues, but it’s imperative that pitchers do so.
USA TODAY SportsButch Dill
Dodgers' rotation injuries
Los Angeles used 15 different starters last season and lost Clayton Kershaw for all of July and August. Kershaw is fine thus far, but Scott Kazmir — limited to 26 starts and 136.1 innings last season — left his Monday start with hip tightness after throwing one pitch in the second inning. It’s the same problem he battled last season. Kazmir told MLB.com that "the frustration's through the roof right now,” though he added that he hopes he doesn’t miss a start.
Missing an early March start isn’t a big deal; missing time during the regular season (again) is.
USA TODAY SportsKelvin Kuo
Jason Heyward's hitting woes
The good news: Heyward busted out of an 0-for-15 spring training slump with a solo homer on Monday (and later added a double). Despite the clean slate, this was beginning to feel an awfull lot like the 2016 regular season and postseason — a nightmare first season for Heyward in Chicago (other than that World Series ring, of course).