Detroit Tigers: Buyers or sellers? Justin Verlander’s future? MCB staff discusses

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Jul 11, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Tigers designated hitter

Victor Martinez

(41) reacts to his ejection from umpire Marty Foster as manager

Brad Ausmus

holds Martinez back in the fifth inning of the game with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

What has gone wrong in the first half for the Detroit Tigers and is it fixable?

Steve Mitzel: I go back to many of our predictions in the beginning of the year where the majority of us picked the Tigers to finish in second or lower. I won’t lie and say that I’m not disappointed with this team because I am extremely disappointed. Between awful management most of the time, injuries, a lackadaisical attitude and effort at times, a sorry bullpen, inconsistent bats, it has been a train wreck in my opinion. Even though I thought that they would not finish first, I never thought that mid July would see us starting upwards six to eight games. I think this is what happens when you have a bunch of players that have already “won” by having huge contracts. The Royals and Twins have budding stars that want to prove themselves and win. The only real standout on this team continues to be future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera.

Zane Stalberg: The Tigers have certainly disappointed. That would be a hard fact for anyone to argue. However, I firmly believe that the Tigers have a legitimate shot to make the playoffs. While a divisional title may be a pipe dream at this point, a chance to play in the Wild Card game is certainly within reach. And, as the Kansas City Royals showed us, winning the AL Central only means so much.

For my money, the poor play can be most directly attributed to rotational depth, and Dave Dombrowski’s continued negligence in regards to his bullpen. If the brain trust in the Tigers’ front office can plug some of those holes, I view Detroit’s problems as ones that are easy to fix, and I see the Tigers as the most likely candidate, alongside the Angels, to secure a wild-card berth.

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Matt PelcI am not really surprised that this team is where they are, I picked them to finish in third place this year because of their failure to properly address the bullpen (again) and the question marks in the rotation with newcomers Shane Greene, Alfredo Simon, and the uncertainty over Justin Verlander‘s injury.

I thought maybe I had under estimated this team when they started the season so strong, but we’ve seen the real Tigers team every other week of the season. When once facet of the game is going strong, like being one of the best bullpens in baseball in May, the offense was listless. When the offense is rolling, the starting pitching and relief is in tatters. That is the definition of a .500 team. This team is just too inconsistent to make a legitimate run at the playoffs, let alone a fifth straight AL Central crown.

Blair Tatrault: The pitching, both starting and relief, has been disappointing. Aside from David Price, the rotation has been uneven. Likewise the pen has been typically Tiger-esque, which is to say largely ineffective. Several new set pieces are needed here, which is problematic. Verlander’s last start was encouraging but even if he’s right, that by itself won’t be enough.

Dave Holcomb:  As bad as the Tigers have been lately, they were a bit unfortunate in the first half because when the team was pitching well, it didn’t hit and when the lineup started hitting, the pitching plummeted.

It appears as if Detroit’s offense will be able to survive without Miguel Cabrera until August, if that is indeed when he returns, but this team’s problem is pitching and it is not fixable. Brad Ausmus sending Kyle Ryan to the minors in favor of Shane Greene is just his way of telling Tigers fans that he has no answer for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. What’s worse is he also needs a No. 4 starter because Alfredo Simon is 1-4 with a 11.12 ERA in his last five starts.

The bullpen needs help too, and Neftali Feliz is not the answer. That is too many problems to fix at the deadline. Not to mention, Detroit sits nine games behind the first place Kansas City Royals in the AL Central.

Tom ZahariThe Detroit Tigers are more stressful to watch than they are enjoyable. I am currently in medical school and the Tigers were supposed to be one of my escapes through it. Instead, they are a team that when I watch, I do not think, how are they going to win this game, but how are they going to lose it. They have been incredibly mediocre at 44-44 going into the break, but they show enough signs of life to give me a sliver of hope (I’m a Detroit Lions fan too, you have to find hope somewhere). Their lineup was anemic without Victor Martinez, but has produced at over a 5.5 run clip in the last month. Now, they just have to put the pitching together. The American League is a league of mediocrity in 2015. If there was a year the Tigers could be mediocre and still make a run, it is this year. If they add pitching, they could still be contenders.

Tom PollinThe Tigers first half can be summed up with a comparison to the 1973 Belmont Stakes. Sham (Tigers) and Secretariat (Royals) both break from the gate at a blistering pace. They head into the first turn neck and neck. They charge down the backstretch and slowly at first Secretariat (Royals) begins to slowly edge ahead of Sham (Tigers). As they near the halfway mark and Secretariat (yes, still the Royals) begins to open push out ahead, three lengths, four lengths, five games, and now own a nine game lead.

Not saying that the Tigers (Sham) will lose by 25 games/lengths like Sham (Tigers) did but after this past weekend in Minnesota, this race is slipping away from the Tigers (Sham) rapidly.

The Tigers are 5-5 in their last 10 games, 10-10 in their last 20 and 15-15 in their last 30 games. That isn’t a trend that inspires confidence.

Is it fixable? Not with this pitching staff. The only team in the American League that’s given up more runs this season is the Boston Red Sox. I don’t see any reason to believe this staff can pick up the pace in the second half of the season.

Matt St Jean: The Detroit Tigers first half has been one of the most boring stretches of baseball I have ever watched. Night after night, when one thing is going good or ok, something else falls apart. Lately they have been scoring runs, but has still been unwatchable for the first time in almost a decade.

Of course its fixable, everything in baseball is fixable when you’re still in the hunt. But I dont think this team is equipped to win the World Series with its current pitching staff.

Next: Buyers or sellers?