Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Why there is no reason to panic about the Detroit Tigers - yet

The Tigers have played awful baseball lately, not only losing seven of their last eight games, but getting throttled by a wide margin in the process. Their starting pitching has been lit up like a pinball machine, and it put pressure on the Tigers' underwhelming bullpen, which predictably capitulated to the moment.
Where a little more than a week ago, it appeared the Tigers were on a leisurely walk to 100 wins, now the cracks in their armor appear to be getting wider.
This is a flawed team, but it's still a very good team. Panic? That would be inappropriate at this point.
This is why:
- The Tigers were seven games up in the American League Central when this bad spell began. They are still five games up. The bottom line is the AL Central has, if anything, regressed from last season when Cleveland and Kansas City both seemed to make progress. The rest of the AL Central is under .500.

Justin Verlander: Has figured it out before
- Chances are the meltdown by the Tigers' starters is aberration rather than trend. While the Tigers' starters have labored, there is no evidence of injury. There is some concern about Justin Verlander after his last two starts. His velocity is down, his walks per strikeout ratio isn't up to his usual standard. Yet, there were the same concerns last year about this time and he eventually snapped out of it.
- Help could be on the way. Rookie reliever Corey Knebal throws hard and has a big curveball and looked good in his second outing Monday at Oakland. He dominated in the minor leagues and was a top closer at the University of Texas. He should help. Joel Hanrahan, signed as a free agent coming off Tommy John surgery, should also augment the Tigers bullpen when he is ready.
- The Tigers still have a lineup and a starting rotation of premier players. Their bullpen is shaky, they are badly lacking at shortstop and eventually will need offensive production from the left side of the plate (Andy Dirks should eventually help, though). But their strengths still outweigh their flaws, especially when compared to the sorry competition in their division. The Tigers weren't as good as they appeared at 27-12, but they aren't as bad they have appeared these last eight games, either. Somewhere in between is probably 90 wins, and that would easily win the AL Central. The idea is to build to a crescendo in the postseason, after likely augmenting their club near the trade deadline. The Tigers are still on track to do that.

My column. Decision not to trade Rick Porcello still a wise one - despite recent rough outing: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20140524/ugly-outing-doesnt-change-merits-of-detroit-tigers-not-trading-rick-porcello-pat-caputo-says

My thoughts on the recent meltdown by the Tigers starting pitchers:


Blogger Barry said...

Pat,to help the drought when your the team funk is to run. For example, ruin the shift. When teams do a shift on Alex with Jackson on first why wouldn't they try to steal or hit and run? With the 3B in RF, that means the ss or 2B has to take the throw. If the throw is off a bit or is bobbled, with the ss takes the throw Jackson should be on 3B. Jackson should be able out run the catcher trying to cover 3B. Catching the ball on the fly, unlike football, could be a challenge. If the 2B covers, then leaves a bigger gap for Alex to hit and might have the ss leaning towards 3B.

7:00 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Panic over the Tigers? Are you serious? People in the Detroit area aren't about to panic over a baseball team if they don't win another game the whole season. There are far more important issues to be concerned with. Quit trying to fan a flame that has only been a figment of sports reporters' imaginations. People aren't that dumb anymore Pat.

1:39 AM 

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