Spencer Turnbull is Back with Tigers

Spencer Turnbull
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Detroit Tigers pitcher Spencer Turnbull is back, and hopefully better than ever. He suffered a forearm strain in 2021, and underwent Tommy John surgery. His return is celebrated news for him, his team, and certainly for the fans.

2021 Great Start

Turnbull was off to a great start for the Tigers in 2021, posting an ERA of 2.88 in 50 innings. He posted four wins, including a no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners. He would only make three more starts after that no-hitter before the forearm strain shut him down.

After having tests done on his arm, he found out he would have to undergo Tommy John surgery. That meant he would miss not only the remainder of the 2021 campaign, but also the entire 2022 season.

Jump to 2023

Jump to spring training of this year, and Turnbull has shown everyone he is back. He looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. His fastball is hitting 95 mph consistently. His most effective pitch, his slider, has looked good as well. He did get tired after a few innings during his spring training debut, but that is to be expected until he can get his throwing arm in shape.

Ace Role

Spencer Turnbull is back, and this team very much needs someone to take on the “ace” role. With Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal out with arm injuries, Turnbull looks like he could be that guy. Since being drafted he has had the best stuff of any Tigers pitcher. He will finally get his chance to show how good he can be.


There is a lot of uncertainty on the Tigers’ pitching staff. Though veterans, like Turnball, most are returning from injuries or other issues. Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez is expected to be the top rotation guy, though he played in just 17 games last season due to personal reasons, but that is behind him now and he has looked good in camp to this point.

Matthew Boyd, also left-handed, has returned to the Tigers. Fans remember him from his stint from 2015-21. Boyd went through the process of rehabbing from arm surgery, then dealing with setbacks, and getting traded. He is excited to be back in Detroit. Michael Lorenzen, a right-hander, signed a one-year deal. He is expected to be in the starting role after MRI found that there was no structural damage from last year’s shoulder strain injury.

Right-hander Matt Manning, who worked on his slider last year and posted quality starts in five of his final nine outings will round out the starting rotation. He suffered from shoulder inflammation and forearm strain last season.


If Spencer Turnbull is fully healthy, he could be in position to pick up where he left off before his injury. If he can settle in and pick up some early wins and gain his confidence, he will be an asset for this staff.

The Tigers are predicted to finish in last place in the AL Central. However, if Turnbull and the other starters can regain and maintain their health, provide quality starts, and pitch past five innings; this team could turn out better than the prognosticators think. Add to the mix a bounce-back from last year’s underachievers on offense, even to just their career averages, and the Tigers could surprise everyone.

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James Marshall

James Marshall

Jim Marshall has lived in Phoenix, AZ for 50 years. He is an avid baseball fan, but enjoys all of Arizona's local sports teams, including Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals and Coyotes. In addition to the four major sports, he closely follows the Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Rattlers and Arizona State Sun Devils. Jim's passion for baseball continues beyond the field as he is an avid collector of baseball memorabilia. His favorite athlete of all time is Baseball Hall of Fame member Harmon Killebrew. In addition to watching, reading and talking about sports, he takes time to travel and appreciate the great state of Arizona with his lovely wife, Patti.

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