Detroit Tigers: Maybe they are just average
By Matt St Jean
The Detroit Tigers cant seem to figure themselves out.
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Sitting at 36-34, and third in the AL Central, calling them average seems easy. But with over a 173 million dollar payroll, being just average is simply not acceptable.
The inconsistencies have been painful. One series, they cant score a run, let alone win a game. The following series, everything is firing on all cylinders, and the ball flies into the stands like batting practice.
But just when you think this team is about to turn the corner for the better, they go and get blasted b beatable teams. After taking two of three in a must win series against the Cleveland Indians a week and a half ago, the Tigers looked ready to make their push at Kansas City to take their fourth consecutive division title. Instead, they lost three of four to the last place Cincinnati Reds, followed by getting embarrassed the first two games in the Bronx against a very mediocre Yankees team.
One of those games lost in New York came at the hands of Justin Verlander. Overall, Tiger’s fans were happy with his first start of the year last week against the Indians. His fastball topped out at 97 while throwing eighty-seven pitches in a no decision.
This weekend, however, was a bit of a different story. Verlanders velocity is back, which was a concern going into the season, but he can’t seem to locate pitches as well as years past, and his strike out numbers are down drastically.
Also unable to locate lately, is closer Joakim Soria. Soria, who began the season perfect in save situations. After securing the role after Joe Nathan was lost for the season, Soria was one of the few consistencies on a nightly basis for Detroit. But since allowing the game tying home run to Adam LaRoche against the White Sox, Soria has struggled. Monday Night against Cleveland, Soria was shaky again. He gave up a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth in a non save situation, and was pulled from a relief appearance just a few days prior.
Trending in the other direction is Starter Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez won his third straight decision on Sunday, after the Tigers rebounded to win one at Yankee Stadium.
The win also came fresh off the heals of a closed-door meeting held by Manager Brad Ausmus. Ausmus knew he needed to spark some energy, as the bats had yet again gone completely flat in the four game losing streak previously. He wanted to let his hitters know that they needed to grind out more at bats and were not getting on base as frequently as they should
Management is not joking around anymore either. Over sixty members from the Tigers upper management accompanied the team on its current trip to Cleveland. Are they evaluating who needs to be moved in order to make this team a contender? Is there anyone in the starting line up that can even be moved to begin with? Time will tell as the trade deadline looms, but its becoming more and more apparent that the 2015 Tigers are a shadow of their former selves.
Obviously Miguel Cabrera will hit. JD Martinez is back, and that is all wonderful. But the ups and downs prove there is no leadership in the clubhouse. The absense of Torii Hunter stung way more than previously thought. Although he was unable to perform at an All-Star level in the field, he could get the troops riled up for a late game comeback, something that has been noticeably absent this season. Late game comeback efforts seem to fall shot almost every chance they get.
The inconsistencies and inabilities shown by all levels of this Detroit Tigers team make them a run-of-the-mill baseball club, and it probably wont change soon. Tigers fans are going to be forced to sit through boring baseball, in a boring, average division, while praying to hang on in order to make a run at the playoffs. They are right in the thick of it, but unless things change very soon, the playoffs may be out of reach and Tigers fans will be demanding changes for next season.