Detroit Tigers players have come out of the gates swinging. Facing tough competition, the team enters the last third of April with a winning record. Here’s a look at what’s to come the rest of the month.
Detroit Tigers baseball has gotten off to a successful in 2016. The Tigers are 7-5 entering Wednesday’s contest against the Royals and have looked good so far this season. There have been early road bumps—Mike Pelfrey, Justin Verlander and Shane Greene all have had rough outings—but there have generally been more positives than negatives.
Jordan Zimmermann is pitching like the frontline pitcher he has been in the past. The bullpen has been excellent so far, and just welcomed Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy back from the disabled list. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is justifiably on fire. Additionally, Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez, Jose Iglesias and Nick Castellanos have all gotten off to torrid starts.
Things are going well in the Motor City. Not only has Detroit started the season on a positive note, but the team has also done a solid job of navigating a tough schedule.
For Opening Day, the MLB schedule makers sent the Detroit Tigers to Miami. During the two-game trip to South Beach, Detroit faced two frontline starters in Wei-Yin Chen and ace Jose Fernandez. Following that set, the team returned home to face the Yankees for two games (it was originally supposed to be three, but one was postponed due to weather). Against New York, the Tigers beat talented young starter Luis Severino.
Detroit’s third series was essentially a home-and-home with two games in each city. The Tigers faced off with the Pirates, beating Garret Cole as Detroit took three of four.
To go through a 12-game stretch that featured Fernandez, Chen, Severino, Cole, McHugh and Keuchel (not to mention Yordano Ventura) and emerge with a winning record is quite the achievement.
What’s more, the Tigers have shown the fight to battle back in games when they are down early. While the team has five losses on the season, only one has been by more than three runs—that loss was by four.
The comebacks haven’t resulted in more wins as of yet, but if the team keeps showing the determination to stay in games, the results will start going their way in time. Only the Baltimore Orioles have a higher run differential (+14) than the Tigers (+13) do in the American League.
After finishing up in Kansas City, Detroit will move into a slightly more manageable portion of the schedule. The Tigers return home for seven games. The first three of the contests will come versus Cleveland, a team the Detroit has had great success against over the past few years.
Despite the fact that Tribe ace Corey Kluber will likely pitch in the series, Detroit could find success. Kluber has a 4.72 career ERA when facing the Tigers. His ERA has ballooned from 3.49 to 6.16 this season. Cleveland will also be without MVP-candidate Michael Brantley for the three-game set.
The last four games of the home stand come against the Oakland Athletics. The A’s are a predictably-good pitching team, but struggle on offense. Of the 12 Oakland hitters to appear in seven or more games, eight are hitting below .250. Only three Athletics starters have even hit a home run. Detroit’s pitching could thrive during the series.
To wrap up the month of April (and start the month of May), the Detroit Tigers will travel to Minnesota to face a Twins team that began the season 0-9. The Twins have evened out the team’s record a bit, but they still remain a franchise six games below .500. Detroit should be favored heading into that series against baseball’s fourth-worst offense.