At this point in the season, there isn’t much doubt in most peoples minds that the Tigers are going to be a part of the post-season. The Indians, while technically still in striking distance for the division at 6.5 games back, just don’t seem to be able to put together the consistency it would take to overtake the Tigers at this point.
The concern, however, isn’t the Tigers getting to the playoffs, it’s what is going to happen once they start.
Recent rough series against the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland A’s have begun to raise some questions about the Tigers. There is no doubt that this Tigers team is supremely talented. The Tigers have the best hitter on the planet in Miguel Cabrera, and probably the best starting rotation one through five in all of baseball. The bullpen has been improved from the start of the season to where it is at least respectable to very good at the end of games. The Tigers roster is loaded, and has been the favorite in the American League to return to the World Series for most of the year.
As we saw last season, the most talented and loaded roster doesn’t always win.
The biggest concern is of course Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera has had a multitude of nagging injuries, and it doesn’t look like they are going away anytime soon. Not to mention, even if the Tigers give Cabrera the kind of rest he needs to feel better, abdominal issues tend to rear their ugly heads again. Cabrera may not fully heal until the off-season.
To add, well…injury to injury, Tigers SS Jose Iglesias is now day to day with shin splints. This is obviously important because of what Iglesias brings defensively. If his range is limited, it hurts the Tigers pitching staff. An unhealthy Iglesias also leads to another question.
Will the Tigers bring back Jhonny Peralta?
Without getting into thoughts on PED’s, there is certainly a question that if the Tigers do bring Peralta back for the playoffs, how effective is he going to be after sitting out 50 games? Especially when the playoffs are going to bring a bunch of talented pitching staffs? Is bringing back Peralta going to be a distraction?
There is still question as to how the bullpen with Joaquin Benoit and Jose Veras will perform at the end of the game when the playoff pressure is on as well. Obviously both guys have performed well this season, but they will be doing it in roles they aren’t used to being in come playoff time.
Then there is the question of did those two series against the Red Sox and the A’s mean anything? Two likely playoff teams beat up pretty good on the Tigers in September. I don’t know that the results of those series ultimately means anything, but I do know it has put a dent into my confidence level.
Not more than a couple weeks ago, I was pretty sure in my belief the Tigers would once again represent the American League in the World Series. Now, I am not so sure. Whether it be nagging injuries, a suspect bullpen, or an ace that isn’t having an ace season, the question marks are piling up.
Or maybe it’s that thing I just can’t put my finger on. You know, that team of destiny thing that last year’s San Francisco Giants seemed to have. I just don’t “feel” it with this group of Tigers right now.
What a difference a couple of weeks can make.