Monday, July 08, 2013

If the Detroit Tigers have an edge, it could be a traditional rival

Until Sunday's loss to the Indians, anyway, a week went well for the Tigers. Their left-handed hitters, who had been struggling mightily, woke up. Alex Avila, Victor Martinez and Andy Dirks all contributed significantly to the Tigers winning five of six games at Toronto and Cleveland. The much-maligned bullpen was pretty good. Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello both turned in strong starts. Even the end of the bench, Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago, had good games.
Was it a mirage? When it comes to Avila. Martinez and Dirks probably not. They were all performing under their established track records. Maybe this is an evening out process and they will perform much better the second half of the season and postseason, should the Tigers get there as expected.
Lots of games vs. White Sox means its looking up for Tigers
The bullpen is still flawed. Joaquin Benoit is doing well as a closer, but it might be that the Tigers' living on borrowed time. The Tigers still need to augment their bullpen with veteran help. Francisco Rodriguez remains the most viable option. Fans are enamored with Jonathan Papelbon. The Phillies are still in the wild card race. It's difficult to discern if and when they will pull the chute on the season.
Also, the Tigers fate will largely be based on their performance vs. the White Sox, their big rivals from last year.
The two teams have yet to meet this season. The Tigers begin a three-game series with the White Sox Tuesday at Comerica Park. The White Sox are awful this season with a 34-51 record. It's good news for the Tigers that 19 of their final 88 games this year (22 percent) are against the White Sox. One of the reason the Indians have emerged as the top threat to the Tigers in the AL Central has been their dominance of the White Sox. Cleveland is 7-2 vs. Chicago in 2013.

This is our weekly live chat. Got into the Red Wings and Pistons' free agent signings. Also, Tigers and NFL player rankings. We answer lots of questions. We do this every Monday at 1 p.m.


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