The Detroit Tigers are one of the season’s biggest disappointments. After letting Max Scherzer walk during the offseason, the Tigers were still expected to be a force to be reckoned with in the weak AL Central. They possessed the big name stars, but injuries have cost them dearly this season. They finished the first half with a 44-44 record and currently sit 9 games behind the division leading Royals and three and an half games behind the nearest wild card spot.
The Tigers’ roster makes you wonder just what has happened to the team that they were projected to be. They have big time hitters such as Miguel Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes, and Ian Kinsler. These hitters were supposed to be the backbone of a lineup that would be the most feared offense in baseball. However, a recent injury to Miguel Cabrera has significantly diminished their offensive production.
Graphic via sportsonearth
In addition, the Tigers’ pitching staff started the season with extremely high expectations. David Price, Anibal Sanchez, and Justin Verlander are considered among the top aces in baseball. However, injuries to Price and Verlander have hurt the Tigers’ performance this season.
Detroit’s biggest strength is its offense. It currently ranks number 3 in baseball with 398 runs scored. Anchored by arguably the best hitter in baseball, Miguel Cabera, and Cespedes, the Tigers’ offense is every pitcher’s worst nightmare. However, the Tigers’ offense has seen a little dip in its production since Miguel Cabrera went down with an injury.
In a major surprise from last year, Detroit is one of the best defensive teams in baseball. They rank 5th with 45 errors and their fielding was spectacular throughout the first half. The strong play of Jose Inglesias and Ian Kinsler has been primarily responsible for this improvement.
It is relatively easy to point out the flaws in the Tigers’ team. Their most glaring weakness is pitching. While Price and Sanchez have produced solid seasons so far, the rest of the starting rotation has struggled to find a rhythm. Meanwhile, the Detroit bullpen has not helped the team very much either. Consequently, Detroit ranks 27th in baseball with a 4.31 team ERA.
The Second Half
A returning Justin Verlander should provide the Tigers’ starting rotation with some much needed aid. However, the loss of Miguel Cabrera (strained calf) for four weeks will mean a dramatic drop-off in their offensive production. If Detroit expects to make a serious run at a playoff spot, they will need to acquire help for their bullpen through trades and their starters, specifically Verlander, will need to remain healthy in order to provide the stellar pitching they will need.
The critical point of Detroit’s seasons should occur in the second week after the All-Star break. They will have series with Boston and Baltimore and this stretch will culminate with two series against their division rivals, Kansas City. If Detroit does not come out of this stretch with a winning record, it will be next to impossible for them to make the playoffs.
Graphic via bleacherreport