With just over one week until Opening Day, fans of the Detroit Tigers [VIDEO] have to be wondering what in the world the 2018 team is going look like [VIDEO]. With longtime fan favorites like Justin Verlander, Alex Avila and JD Martinez gone - not to mention Justin Upton and Ian Kinsler, are the Tigers going to be as bad as #MLB experts are predicting? No, and here is why.

It’s the Central

The Tigers are not in the weakest division in baseball, nor are they in the strongest. Let’s just say this year the AL Central division is a bit more wide-open than most people think. Before you say Cleveland will run away from everyone think about this, two years ago the Minnesota Twins finished with a 59-103 record - the worst in all of baseball.

In 2017 they became the first team in #MLB history to lose over 100 games in a season and make the playoffs the following year. Anything can happen in this game. For the Tigers to make a run at the AL Central in 2018 they will need a lot to go right, and it all starts with the pitching.

Zimmermann, Boyd, Liriano key

Michael Fulmer is considered the ace of the Tigers staff heading into 2018. Fans know that he has to do well, and he most likely will. However, it is the supporting cast that is going to have to shine if the Tigers are going to have any bite this season. Detroit spent a lot of money during the 2015 offseason on Jordan Zimmermann, and now that he is heading into his third full season in Motown, fans are hoping he can deliver.

According to a Detroit News report, many of the media and fans were a bit stunned when manager Ron Gardenhire announced that Zimmermann would be the starting pitcher on Opening Day next week in Detroit over Michael Fulmer.

“I am not kidding you, I’m being serious.” Gardenhire said. “Jordan Zimmermann is going to start on Opening Day.”

Zimmermann has a great career record of 87-70, to go along with a very respectable 3.76 ERA. The problem is he has been awful with the Tigers. After starting the 2016 season 5-0, Zimmermann has compiled a 12-20 record with an ERA well over 5.00. In fairness, he has suffered a few injuries during his time in Detroit. Hopefully this season the veteran right-hander can stay injury free and win 15-plus games. If he does, Detroit will not be cellar-dwellers.

Right behind Zim, the Tigers will need good seasons from Matthew Boyd and Daniel Norris. Boyd and Norris were both obtained from Toronto in the deal that sent David Price to the Jays back in 2015. While they have shown flashes of greatness, hopefully, a break out season is on the horizon for both of them this season. Double-digit wins is a must for the two lefties if the Tigers are going to contend.

Lastly is the wildcard, Francisco Liriano.

The 34-year-old veteran is reuniting with manager Ron Gardenhire and bullpen coach Rick Anderson which will make both parties feel comfortable right off the bat. Liriano was a stud in his early portion of his career with the Twins. He finished second to Justin Verlander for the 2006 American League rookie of the year award.

A 10+ win season from this guy would be a huge life for the Tigers in 2018.

Take a deep breath Tigers fans. With a new leadoff hitter, third baseman, and plenty of new faces on the roster. The 2018 season may start like Abbott & Costello’s version of “Whos on First,” but hopefully it will end much better!

Here is a look at the projected starting lineup for the 2018 #detroit tigers according to MLB.com

Lineup:

1. Leonys Martin, CF

2. Jeimer Candelario, 3B

3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B

4. Nicholas Castellanos, RF

5. Victor Martinez, DH

6. James McCann, C

7. Mikie Mahtook, LF

8. Dixon Machado 2B

9. Jose Iglesias, SS

Rotation

1. Jordan Zimmermann, RHP

2. Michael Fulmer, RHP

3. Francisco Liriano, LHP

4. Matthew Boyd, LHP

5. Daniel Norris, LHP

Closer: Shane Greene, RHP