Detroit Tigers News

Detroit Tigers: They Are Who We Thought They Were

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May 29, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey (37) and catcher James McCann (34) wait for a visit to the mound by Tigers pitching coach Rich Dubee during the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports
May 29, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey (37) and catcher James McCann (34) wait for a visit to the mound by Tigers pitching coach Rich Dubee during the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Detroit Tigers can be viewed as one of the more interesting cases in baseball over the last two seasons: they have all the talent on paper, but cannot put it together on the field on a consistent basis.

Detroit Tigers players have not dealt with the same injuries as they did in 2015 this season, but their performance is very similar past the quarter way point in the season.

The 2016 Tigers’ lineup looks just like the 2015 Tigers. They are a feast or famine offense that can mash against any pitcher and get shut down by any pitcher on any given day. They essentially traded Yoenis Cespedes for Justin Upton and Cameron Maybin for Anthony Gose.

Upton’s lack of performance has been picked up by Nick Castellanos’s surge, and James McCann and Jose Iglesias’s struggles have been covered by Maybin’s hot start.

The Tigers’ bullpen has shown it has not changed from previous years. Francisco Rodriguez has shut down the ninth inning, but the Tigers have problems getting the ball to him in the ninth.

Mark Lowe has had an up and down career that has followed his fastball, and the Tigers rewarded him for having an up year in 2015 with a contract. Now that his fastball is not as dominant, he has followed his career trend and fallen. 

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Justin Wilson has pitched better than his ERA has indicated, but has had a season like this. If his 4.12 ERA approached his 1.53 FIP, he would be closer to his career 3.12 ERA and his career 3.07 FIP.

The rest of the Tigers bullpen was as advertised last season and the problem they have tried to replace. Alex Wilson is battling through innings, but has struggled lately. Outside of the Wilsons, Lowe, and Rodriguez, the Tigers have continued a revolving door of middle men who they have failed to develop into competent bullpen arms.

Finally, the starting pitching has shaken out close to expectations. Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez were both pitchers who came off of rocky 2015 seasons and were 50/50 to recover or crumble. Verlander has recovered nicely while Sanchez has crumbled.

Jordan Zimmermann has been the pitcher the Tigers hoped he would be when they signed him to a reported (per USA Today) five-year, $110 million contract. The other Tigers’ signing has done the opposite. Mike Pelfrey was a scouting signing, instead of a stats signing, and the stats have won. Pelfrey has been better lately, but has not been able to maneuver his way through the sixth inning.

The final starter was a question heading into the season with Daniel Norris’s recovery, but his injury and struggles have allowed Michael Fulmer to make his MLB debut where he has shown flashes of the pitcher the Tigers hope he becomes, but has shown growing pains at other times.

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When it comes down to the Detroit Tigers, former Arizona Cardinals’ coach Dennis Green said it best, “They are who we thought they were!” A solid team that can make the postseason, but seem like they will waste the talent they have.

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