Detroit Tigers: Can’t Rely on the Home Run

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Apr 23, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) reacts after grounding out against the Cleveland Indians in the seventh inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) reacts after grounding out against the Cleveland Indians in the seventh inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Detroit Tigers team is built around the home run. When the home runs dry up, so do the wins.

Apr 23, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez (19) reacts as he walks Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) in the first inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez (19) reacts as he walks Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) in the first inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

With hitters like Miguel Cabrera, Justin Upton, and J.D. Martinez on the roster, the team expects a certain number of home runs to occur. When those players are slumping, the rest of the team has to carry the load. Right now, the Detroit Tigers – who are not hitting home runs – are sitting three games back in the AL Central with a .500 record of 8 and 8.

After three losses in a row, the cracks in the lineup are crystal clear. The problems involve the players who are supposed to be the most reliable. After three losses in a row with scores of 0-4 against the Royals and 2-1 and 10-1 against the Indians, the issues need to be resolved.

Upton and Cabrera are currently two guaranteed outs. With three outs per inning, this makes it difficult for the Tigers to get things started. Upton currently has a slash of .217/.250/.319 and an eyeball-popping 30 strikeouts. Cabrera doesn’t look any better with a slash of .210/.300/.306. Both men each have hit one home run in 16 games.

Sadly, the other player who is not performing in the current situation is Victor Martinez. As the DH, his only job is to hit. And he isn’t either. His .245/.315/.449 slash line is only remarkable for the fact that the number are so low. He has only hit two home runs in 16 games, too.

Apr 21, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (left) and third basemen Nick Castellanos (right) look on during batting practice prior to a game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 21, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (left) and third basemen Nick Castellanos (right) look on during batting practice prior to a game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /

Even the 2015 Detroit Tigers home run leader, J.D. Martinez, is having a drought. His lack of long balls is hurting the team, too. While he is getting hits, only two of the 60 at-bats have resulted in his trademark dingers.

It is clear that the Tigers cannot survive without the long ball.

Something has to change. This is the third season in a row where the team comes out of spring training with powerful bats and then cools off. This does not happen to other teams. If it did, their records would drop, too. Instead, these other teams benefit greatly, like a 10-1 win.

Now, the lack of home runs is not the only reason the Tigers cannot get a win. The other reason comes at the hands of the starting pitchers. Other than Jordan Zimmermann, the Tigers’ pitching has been atrocious. No one, I repeat, no starting pitcher except Jordan Zimmermann appears to be able to throw effectively.

The pitchers are allowing way too many hits. Mike Pelfrey has a .375 BABIP, Justin Verlander has a .322 BABIP, and Anibal Sanchez has a .317 BABIP. When these numbers are bigger than the batting averages of the hitters with multi-million dollar contracts, bad things happen – like big losses. 

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There are solutions available. There are players who are succeeding. The batting lineup can be adjusted so hitters like Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Nick Castellanos, who are seeing success at the plate, get more opportunities to swing. Even someone like Steven Moya, who has a better batting average than Cabrera and Upton, could fill in if needed.

There are pitchers available who can be leaders on the mound, start games, and help the team rather than stress it. Those are pitchers like Alex Wilson, Matt Boyd, and Thad Weber. Boyd and Weber are pitching strongly in Toledo with the Triple-A Mud Hens.

Next: Get Thee to a Whitecaps Game

Frustrated hitters and struggling pitchers can be fixed. It is time to call in for repairs because every game does count.

Check out more Detroit Tigers news and analysis at Motor City Bengals

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