Jul 9, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez (28) celebrates after scoring in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Missing baseball? Real, meaningful non-Exhibition baseball?
The staff at Motor City Bengals is missing it as well. Like you, we are anxiously awaiting the final 71 games of the season to see if the Detroit Tigers can head into the postseason for a fourth straight year and look to finally win that elusive World Series title.
Tuesday, our staff roundtable looked at the first half of the 2014 season. Today, on the eve of baseball resuming, we’ll look ahead to the season’s final 2 1/2 months.
Please click through the slideshow to see all of the questions and our answers.
What storyline are you looking forward to seeing playing out for this team in the second half?
Matt Snyder: I’m definitely interested to see if Justin Verlander can get everything put back together. He was able to do it down the stretch a season ago and became a dominant force once again in October. I’m especially intrigued / concerned about his strikeout rate: nearly 8.5 K/9 for his career, he’s been below 7.0 K/9 this season.
Chris Hannum: Of course the storyline we’re all hoping for is another deep playoff run. Aside from what I “want” to see, what I’ll be just plain interested to see is what the Tigers bullpen looks like in August and especially September with (hopefully) Hanrahan and (presumably) both Knebel and Ray.
Michael Emmerich: 1. How does Ausmus shuffle his outfield pieces. Will Jackson or Hunter suffer reduced played time? If Martinez cools considerably, and the odds are he will, then Ausmus will probably go with the preseason plan. But if Martinez continues to contribute Ausmus will have to make some difficult decisions. 2. How will the left side of the infield hold up down the stretch. I think they’ll be fine, but the pressure thickens in August and September. No matter what happens, I’m excited to watch two young Tigers playing together with bright futures.
Grant Stoye: As a fantasy owner, I’d love to see Verlander bounce back, but I’m still incredibly interested in how Ausmus utilizes Andy Dirks and manages the OFs playing times.
Tom Zahari: I’m interested in what will happen the remainder of the season in the Tigers’ outfield. Torii Hunter has really heated up going into the All Star Break. Austin Jackson is playing well at the moment. J.D. Martinez has set the world on fire since coming up to the Tigers. Rajai Davis has played just as everyone has expected him to play. Andy Dirks is going to return soon. I am excited to see what happens in the Tigers’ outfield in the 2nd half. I am also interested to see who is the odd man out of the order and the roster when Dirks returns.
Blair Tatrault: In Castellanos and Suarez, the Tigers have two youngsters holding down the left side of the infield–each has comported himself well in the first half. An intriguing question is how the rookies will handle the increased pressures of September and October baseball, assuming this team advances to postseason play.
Matt Pelc: I am really interested to see what happens when Andy Dirks comes back. I am also dreading the situation because someone like Rajai Davis, who has been really solid this year, will lose playing time—or worse—when Dirks comes back. Even a guy like Don Kelly, who is not popular with the fanbase but I like as a bench guy, will suffer with the return of Dirks. But Dirks is not a star, he’s an average player and I hate that the Tigers feel they need to mess with success to guarantee Dirks a roster spot.
Josh Scramlin: I am certainly looking forward to the outfield situation. For the first time in a while the Tigers have an abundance of outfielders. When Dirks comes back, things will get interesting. J.D. Martinez and Rajai Davis have played so incredibly well it’s hard to imagine their playing time decreasing. Austin Jackson has been disappointing thus far and Torii’s defense is horrid. So, a team has five starter-quality outfielders. What to do?
Sam O’Toole: How Dirks is going to fit in. To me, either Kelly gets cut or Davis could be used in a deadline deal. J.D. Martinez isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and the Tigers have to open up a roster spot for Dirks. I see Kelly being the odd man out in a couple of weeks.