Thursday, May 16, 2013

No disasters, but Detroit Tigers still have their issues

Sparky Anderson's 40-game mark legacy will live in infamy in Detroit sports lore. I kind of laugh about it having been around him daily the last 10 years he was the Tigers' manager. That's because it was no more than a deflector away from the way the Tigers performed during the opening weeks of a given season.
Austin Jackson: Missed
When the 40-game mark would actually arrive, Sparky would then go into how you'd know more about his team at the All Star break. At the All Star break, then it would be you really wouldn't know much until Sept. 1. On Sept. 1, it would be, "That's why they play 162 games...and 162 games don't lie."
Still, the Tigers, 22-16, will reach the 40-game mark this weekend during a road trip to Texas. Unlike most years, it isn't a question whether the Tigers will be a contender this season. Barring the totally unforeseen, they will be in contention.
But there are still issues. Here a few of them.
- Top clubs go on the road and beat other top clubs. So this road trip to Texas this weekend will be a litmus test for the Tigers. They didn't pass one recently at Washington. The Rangers have revamped their club after last year's collapse and are formidable. They sure aren't the Astros, the club the Tigers have been beating up on. This could be a preview of a postseason series. How, starting with tonight's classic Justin Verlander-Yu Darvish pitching matchup, will the Tigers respond?
- I see no issues with the Tigers' lineup, although they will miss Austin Jackson until he comes back. There had been some questions about a right-handed outfielder to platoon with Andy Dirks, but Matt Tuiasosopo has been a tremendous find for the Tigers. He has sound fundamental hitting mechanics and a live bat.
- The Tigers starting rotation is the best in baseball, but their bullpen is shaky. Jose Valverde's last outing was better. We should know more about him after trips to Texas and Cleveland. Al Alburquerque has been a huge disappointment.
- Jim Leyland is a tremendous manager. If the Tigers win a World Series on his watch, he will end up in the Hall of Fame. But he starting to get into his "Everybody has to play" mode. It can be a bit much. And Don Kelly pinch hitting for Tuiasosopo when he was 3-for-3? Those type of things don't help the Tigers.


Blogger Barry said...

Pat, Kelly is a defensive replacement only and maybe pinch hit for a pitcher when occasions arises. I wish JL would only use Coke against lefties as righties are hitting 350 this year, 396 last year and 314 in 2011. This is a disaster that is continuing. Thou stall never release AA because his 14.K/9 over 71 innings should be impressively noted. JL is a good manager.

6:20 PM 
Anonymous woody said...

winning 2 out of 3 at home and 1 of 2 on road = playoff team. they are on track. the bullpen is a conundrum but it will eventually be addressed externally. interested to see what defined role Leyland eventually gives Smyly. it's been in flux, but it seems now he's the most valuable arm in the pen.

the bench and lower 3rd of the order has been surprisingly productive. the struggle for consistency among several of the young relievers, the greatest disappointment.

7:00 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woody, may I borrow your rose glasses?

6:51 PM 

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