Detroit Tigers Links: Lineup weak spots, All-Star voting, 35-5 & what’s wrong with Justin Verlander


May 9, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos (9) hits a single in the fourth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Tigers’ pitching will be fine, but lineup’s weak spots starting to show – Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press

"Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez are as good a combo as there is in baseball. Ian Kinsler is playing the best ball of his career. But name another hitter in this lineup trending in the right direction?Austin Jackson? Torii Hunter? Alex Avila? Rajai Davis? Nick Castellanos?OK, Andrew Romine. He is not a .180 hitter. But he isn’t a .280 hitter, either."

You started to see the struggles of guys like Austin Jackson and Nick Castellanos in early May. Jackson and Casty started strong but each has had a terrible month. This was mostly glossed over earlier in May as the starters were nailing things down, but now that there has been a bump (a rather large bump) in the rotation, it’s becoming more and more concerning.

Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler lead in early All-Star voting – Josh Slagter, MLive

"Miguel Cabrera and Ian Kinsler sit atop their respective positions after MLB released the first voting update, the lone two Tigers players currently in the lead to be elected starters.Cabrera leads all first basemen with 440,407 votes, ahead of Los Angeles’ Albert Pujols (371,193) and Chicago’s Jose Abreu (367,617).Kinsler (356,244) holds a narrow lead over Seattle’s Robinson Cano (350,293) and Boston’s Dustin Pedroia (343,321) at second base."

The MVP of the Tigers thus far, Victor Martinez, is languishing in third for designated hitters. It doesn’t seem likely he’ll make up the 150K deficit to David Ortiz (and Nelson Cruz who is in second), but it will be criminal if V-Mart is not a reserve.

What if 35-5 happened today? – Motor City Bengals special to Detroit Free Press

"Not only did they achieve 35-5 on May 24, they also broke the American League record for consecutive road wins at 17. If the 35-5 Tigers beat the 20-24 Seattle Mariners on May 25 in the Kingdome, they would capture the major league record.Winning breeds arrogance, especially among fans of good teams. So of course “we” would beat that “lousy” team, right? Not so fast. It proved quite the opposite as Seattle swept Detroit by a combined score of 22-9.Can you imagine the Twitter reaction following that series? Milt Wilcox and Dan Petry should be removed from the rotation. Sparky Anderson is senile and can’t handle a pitching staff. Lance Parrish strikes out too much and Dwight Lowry should receive more playing time. Darrell Evans can’t hit for average anymore and the 37-year-old should be sent to the minors to work out his swing."

There’s a lesson to all this. Ten days ago many fans were thinking this year’s team was on its way to 110 wins. This week, they are the worst team this side of 2003. The truth lies somewhere in the middle–the Tigers are not as good of a team as they showed earlier in the month and they are not as bad as they have shown lately. Baseball is a streaky sport and unfortunately, Detroit is experiencing a bad streak.

What’s wrong with Justin Verlander? – Rob Rogacki, Bless You Boys

"One trend suggesting Verlander isn’t fully recovered from his offseason surgery is how poorly he has performed late in games. Throughout his career, Verlander’s numbers have not gotten worse when his pitch count gets elevated. For instance, in pitches 76-100 in a game, opposing batters are hitting .254/.311/.400 in his career. This season, those numbers have risen to a gaudy .358/.394/.478. That .872 OPS is nearly identical to the .873 OPS he has allowed when his pitch count reaches triple digits. Here is the overall breakdown by OPS for his career and 2014."

FanGraphs recently reported Verlander’s fastball is down three mph since 2011. I am not sure this is a huge concern, I mean he has aged three years since that season, but JV needs to fine tune his other pitches and perhaps change his game. Other pitchers have done it successfully, and Verlander may be facing this prospect.