With the start of the regular season beginning next week, it's important for a World Series contender like the Detroit Tigers to get off to a good start early in the season.
If the Tigers want to win the World Series, then they need to make sure they win their games against the AL Central and get their bullpen settled.
The good news is that there aren't any serious injuries entering the season and the team looks stronger on paper with free-agent addition Torii Hunter in right field.
Now let's see my predictions for the month of April.
All the offseason talk is forgotten now that the Detroit Tigers are finally opening up the 2013 campaign with World Series aspirations.
The road starts in Minnesota on April 1 and it looks like the Tigers will start the campaign taking two of three from the Twins.
The temperature will be cold in Minnesota and Tigers ace Justin Verlander will struggle on Opening Day with his breaking ball in the weather conditions. The Twins will get to him early for three runs in the first inning.
After that, Verlander will settle down and pitch six innings before exiting with a 5-3 lead behind the hitting of designated hitter Victor Martinez and first baseman Prince Fielder.
The Tigers' bullpen will hold on for the win—even though Joaquin Benoit will have allowed a run on two hits and one walk in one inning of work—for a 7-4 Tigers victory.
In game two of the early season, expect the Tigers to slug their way to a 6-5 victory behind Miguel Cabrera, who will look to have not cooled off from his Triple Crown-winning season. Cabrera will hit two home runs and have four runs batted in.
The Tigers will close out the victory with Al Alburquerque recording the save, even though it won't be easy and he'll load the bases before striking out Joe Mauer.
In the final game of the series, the Tigers' bats will let them down and they'll leave 10 men on base, losing to the Twins 5-2.
April 1: 7-4 Tigers win
April 3: 6-5 Tigers win
April 4: 5-2 Twins win
Tigers record (2-1)
The Detroit Tigers will open their home campaign against the New York Yankees on April 5.
Even though the Tigers swept the Yankees in the ALCS, the Yankees still had the best record in the AL in 2012 going 95-67. Luckily for the Tigers, the Yankees have several injuries that will impact them during the beginning of the season.
With players such as Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez out for a while, the Yankees will struggle for runs.
The Tigers' pitching looks to pick up where they left off in the ALCS and will shut down the Yankees' bats in a three-game sweep.
In the first game, Miguel Cabrera will hit a two-run home run and Prince Fielder will add an RBI double. The Tigers will end up winning 4-1.
In the second game, Prince Fielder will hit a grand slam in the seventh inning and the Tigers will win again, 6-0.
In the final game, Rick Porcello will pitch six innings, allowing no runs on three hits. Phil Coke will pick up his first save of the season in the third game by having a 1-2-3 ninth inning. The Tigers will win 2-0, completing the series sweep.
The Tigers' pitching will only allow one run and Prince Fielder will have five runs batted in during the three-game series.
April 5: 4-1 Tigers win
April 6: 6-0 Tigers win
April 7: 2-0 Tigers win
Tigers record (5-1)
After the New York Yankees leave, one of the favorites in the AL East—the Toronto Blue Jays—come into Detroit to face the Detroit Tigers.
The Blue Jays, who greatly improved their team over the offseason by acquiring veteran players like Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson, have the talent to the win the AL East.
With the Tigers coming off a sweep of the Yankees, they will struggle with reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey's knuckleball in the opening game of the three-game series, losing 8-2.
In the second game, Anibal Sanchez will pitch seven innings and hold the Blue Jays to two runs. This will bring the Tigers to even up the series after a 3-2 win.
In the rubber match, the Blue Jays' Jose Bautista will hit a grand slam in the third inning off of Doug Fister, which will prove too much to overcome for the Tigers. The Tigers will attempt to mount a rally in the ninth inning by scoring three runs, cutting the lead to 5-4. However, they will come up short, losing the game as well as their first series of the season.
April 9: 8-2 Blue Jays win
April 10: 3-2 Tigers win
April 11: 5-4 Blue Jays win
Tigers record (6-3)
The Detroit Tigers will hit the West Coast for their first extended trip of the season. The Tigers will begin in Oakland, where they defeated the Oakland Athletics in five games during the 2012 ALDS.
Despite having lost their first series of the season to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Tigers will be satisfied with their early 6-3 record.
In the first game of the series, Justin Verlander will mow down the Athletics' hitters and pitch eight strong innings, allowing only one run while striking out 11. Outfielder Andy Dirks will have three hits and two runs batted in as the Tigers take the first game 8-2.
In the second game, the Athletics' pitchers will hold the Tigers to three hits and two runs. Pitcher Rick Porcello will only last four innings, allowing six earned runs as the Tigers lose 3-2.
In the final game, pitcher Max Scherzer will pitch seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits. However, Phil Coke will allow three runs in the ninth inning for his first blown save and the Tigers will lose 5-4.
April 12: 8-2 Tigers win
April 13: 3-2 Athletics win
April 14: 5-4 Athletics win
Tigers record (7-5)
The Detroit Tigers will be coming off of back-to-back losses for the first time this season. In the first game against the Seattle Mariners, the Tigers will run into ace Felix Hernandez.
Hernandez will stymie the Tigers by pitching 7.2 innings, only allowing three hits and eight strikeouts. The only blemish on Hernandez's pitching line will be a solo home run from Prince Fielder in the fifth inning.
Tigers pitcher Doug Fister will have a great return in Seattle by pitching 7.1 innings, but will allow three runs—only two of which will be earned. The Tigers will lose the first game of the series 4-1.
In game two of the series, the Tigers bats will come awake being led by Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, who between them will have five runs batted in. Austin Jackson will also contribute two hits and two stolen bases, bringing the Tigers to win 7-1.
In the final game against the Mariners, pitcher Rick Porcello will pitch a gem. He will last 8.2 innings, give up four hits, seven strikeouts and one walk in shutting down the Mariners lineup. Torii Hunter will have a three-hit game and Alex Avila will have a two-run home run, leading the Tigers to a 3-0 victory and a series win.
April 16: 4-1 Mariners win
April 17: 7-1 Tigers win
April 18: 3-0 Tigers win
Tigers record (9-6)
The Detroit Tigers finish up their nine-game west coast trip in Anaheim, meeting the Los Angeles Angels.
While the Los Angeles Dodgers spent big money to bring in key free agents this offseason, they were arguably overshadowed by the Angels' free agent signing of outfielder Josh Hamilton.
The signing of Hamilton gives the Angels a lethal combo of power hitters with Albert Pujols and Mike Trout, which make them a favorite in the AL West.
The Angels will want to send a message to the Tigers and they will get off to a great start in the first game. Angels pitcher Jered Weaver will pitch eight shutout innings, allowing five hits and two walks, while striking out 10. Pujols will have a three-run RBI double in the sixth inning to break the game open. That will be enough for the Angels to defeat the Tigers 3-1.
In the second game of the series, the Angels' bats will get to Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer early and he will get yanked in two innings, allowing six runs. Mark Trumbo will have a grand slam in the second inning and will finish with five runs batted in. The Tigers will try to mount a late comeback with a three-run home run by Jhonny Peralta, but the Tigers will end up losing 9-5.
In the final game of the series, Tigers pitcher Doug Fister will pitch 6.2 innings, allowing two runs on six hits. Reliever Phil Coke will come into the game in the seventh inning with the score tied at two apiece, but he will allow a two-run single to Mike Trout. The Tigers won't be able to mount a comeback and they will be swept in the series, losing the last game 4-3.
April 19: 3-1 Angels win
April 20: 9-5 Angels win
April 21: 4-3 Angels win
Tigers record (9-9)
After having started the season 5-1, the Detroit Tigers will return home from their nine-game road trip stuck at .500. They will open their homestand with AL Central rival, the Kansas City Royals.
While the Royals will be improved this season—starting with ace pitcher James Shields, the Tigers will be relieved to play them.
In a matchup between Shields and Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander in the first game, Verlander will make a statement. He will pitch a complete game two-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts and the Tigers will win 4-0.
In the second game, Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez will have his best start of the season. He will pitch seven strong innings, allowing one run on five hits, while striking out nine. Victor Martinez will hit his first home run of the season and Omar Infante will collect two runs batted in. The Tigers will take the second game 3-1.
In the final game of the series, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera will hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning, leading the Tigers to a sweep of the Royals with a 6-3 win.
April 23: 4-0 Tigers win
April 24: 3-1 Tigers win
April 25: 6-3 Tigers win
Tigers record (12-9)
With the Detroit Tigers regaining their confidence after their sweep of the Kansas City Royals, they will play their first interleague matchup against the visiting Atlanta Braves.
The Braves have a stronger team thanks to brothers Justin and B.J. Upton playing in the outfield.
However, the Tigers will be playing great team baseball and in the first game, Austin Jackson will lead the way for the Tigers. Jackson will hit a leadoff home run and add three hits, as he will be a catalyst for the offense. Bruce Rondon, who will get called up before the game, will get his first career major league save as the Tigers win 8-6.
In the second game, the Tigers will enter the ninth inning with a 2-1 lead off of a Torii Hunter two-run homer in the third inning. With Rondon pitching on back-to-back nights, he will try to blow a fastball by Jason Heyward, but Heyward will catch the ball and hit a two-run home run. The Tigers won't be able to score a run in the bottom of the ninth and the Braves will win 3-2.
In the final game of the series, pitcher Doug Fister's sinking fastball will work perfectly and he will pitch a complete game, allowing one run on four hits with four strikeouts. The Tigers will win the final game 2-1 and win the series 2-1.
April 26: 8-6 Tigers win
April 27: 3-2 Braves win
April 28: 2-1 Tigers win
Tigers record (14-10)
The Detroit Tigers will be on a roll after winning five out of their last six games. With the Minnesota Twins coming to town, the Tigers' starting pitching will have been key to this recent streak.
Now that the weather will be getting warm, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder will be starting to hit the ball with greater authority.
In the first game of the series, Cabrera will have two home runs and six runs batted in as the Tigers coast to an easy 9-2 victory.
In the second game of the series, the Twins will take a four-run lead in the first inning, but Victor Martinez will get two runs back with a two-run RBI double. Then in the fourth inning, the Tigers will take the lead for good on an Alex Avila three-run home run. The Tigers will add an insurance run in the seventh on a Fielder solo home run and the Tigers will win 6-4.
April 29: 9-2 Tigers win
April 30: 6-4 Tigers win
Tigers record for April (16-10)
Bonus: Last game in Twins series May 1: 5-1 Tigers win
What do you think the Tigers' record for April will be?