Unless they go on a major run in the final four weeks of the season, the Detroit Tigers will go from first to worst in the standings in one season.
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Perhaps more alarming is how they went from having the best pitching staff in baseball for several years, and now regularly get bombed by opponents’ double-digit run onslaughts.
They have always had a bad bullpen, at least since 2012, but the starting pitching made up for that as much as it could. When you had starters going deep into games and staying healthy, it minimized the appearances of players that shouldn’t be in the majors yet (Kyle Ryan) and players that should be long gone from the game (Randy Wolf).
With the struggles of Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander‘s injury and early ineffectiveness before finding it the last six weeks, and Alfredo Simon‘s Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde act, it has led to much more exposure of the bullpen and ineffective starts to disastrous results.
This Tigers team has not been fun to watch this season, other than the first two weeks of the year when they jumped out to a 10-2 record (man, that feels like two years ago now). But you would not be alone in thinking this team is unwatchable. New GM Al Avila concurs. Unlike fans, he is the only one that can do something about that, so let’s get on that, good sir.
The media had been rightfully pestering manager Brad Ausmus when a slumping Victor Martinez was still in the cleanup spot. He finally relented last week and pushed him to fifth, a spot usually reserved for a potent bat, one that V-Mart does not currently possess. But any chances of him plunging further down in the lineup have been snuffed out.
How the Detroit Tigers’ starting pitching went from first to worst in 10 steps over three seasons – Matthew B. Mowery, Oakland Press
"3. NO HELP FROM THE MINORSWhen Drew Smyly won the fifth starter job in his first big-league camp in 2012, there were five other viable candidates — Andy Oliver, Jacob Turner, Adam Wilk, Duane Below and Casey Crosby. Other than a few spot starts, and some relief work here or there, none of those five helped the big-league club any appreciable amount after that, except as trade chips (Turner was in the Sanchez deal). The Tigers subsequently dealt a couple other down-the-road prospects (i.e. Jake Thompson), leaving them with little-to-no starting depth in the high minors — and no help on the way, when the big-league rotation began to fray."
GM Al Avila: ‘This has not been fun to watch at all’ – Katie Strang, ESPN
"“Horrible,” Avila told ESPN.com. “It has not been fun to watch at all.”Avila has had to witness a once-promising pitching staff — boasting the likes of ace Justin Verlander, work horse David Price and veteran Anibal Sanchez — whittle away into a group decimated by injuries, lacking in experience and prone to buckling.“Right now, [starting pitching is] a weak spot for us, and even last year, it was a weak spot for us,” Avila said. “We have to try to get better before the season’s over.”And after that? Well, the newly promoted general manager, who ascended to the position after the dismissal of Dave Dombrowski, can expect to have a busy offseason as he pursues help for both the starting rotation and the bullpen, which has also proven unreliable.“It’s obviously an area of serious importance for us,” Avila said, adding that revamping the pitching staff is probably the top priority heading into 2016."
Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has no plans to drop Victor Martinez further down lineup – James Schmehl, MLive
"“He can’t really be dropped much further,” Ausmus said. “We need his production.”Ausmus’ comments come a day after Martinez extended his RBI-less streak to a career-high 13 consecutive games. The 36-year-old went 0 for 4 on Friday night and is now 0 for 16 with runners in scoring position since driving in a run Aug. 20.Martinez is 6 for 50 with no extra-base hits and no RBIs during those 13 games since Aug. 20. His batting average fell to .232 after going hitless Friday night, and he has now hit .183 with a .235 on-base percentage since the All-Star break."