May 4, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander (35) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
The Detroit Tigers currently sit at 17-9 on the year which gives them the best winning percentage in the American League. They have won 5 straight, 6 of 7 on the road, and 8 of their last 10 overall. Even with the bullpen woes, the Tigers rank 2nd in the American League behind Oakland in total team ERA and WHIP with a 3.65 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. The Tigers’ starting staff leads the AL in WHIP with at 1.15 and an ERA of 2.82.
Since Anibal Sanchez went on the DL with the finger blister, the starting staff has stepped up through one rotation. Justin Verlander has made two starts against the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals, each start going 7 innings surrendering 3 runs in each start. Max Scherzer went 6 shutout innings in his start against the White Sox. Rick Porcello went 7 innings of 2 run ball against the Royals. Drew Smyly went 7 innings of shutout ball in his only start against the Royals.
When your team’s biggest problem is the bullpen, the easiest way to cure the problem is to minimize the bullpen’s workload. This starting staff is what will carry the Tigers this season and through the postseason. The lineup will produce, but the starting staff will need to keep the bullpen off of the field and pick up the lineup when it has its off days.
Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are Cy Young candidates this season. When Anibal Sanchez gets off of the DL, he will be the best number 3 starter in all of baseball. Rick Porcello is off to a very nice start of the season and Drew Smyly has been what the Tigers have wanted him to be in this 2014 season. Robbie Ray will be making his Major League debut this upcoming Tuesday against the Houston Astros which will give Tigers fans a glimpse into what will be a future starter in the Tigers rotation.
Just because starting pitching is leading the charge, doesn’t mean that the Tigers’ offense is not producing. The offense has come out of its early season slump. Victor Martinez is hitting the cover off of the baseball right now to the point where the Royals walked him intentionally 4 times in 2 games. Ian Kinsler, Rajai Davis, and Andrew Romine have all been great additions to the Tigers’ order. Miguel Cabrera is putting good swings on the ball right now. Torii Hunter is currently on an 11 game hitting streak. Even Alex Avila has busted out of his early struggles with 2 home runs in 2 games against the Royals.
Besides the middle relievers in the bullpen, the Detroit Tigers are firing on all cylinders and are currently the best team in the American League based on winning percentage. The Tigers’ lineup is producing at a very nice rate right now, but it will be the starting staff will take this team as far as it goes into the postseason this year.