The Detroit Tigers were streaking as they approached the All-Star break. Unfortunately the could not get over the hump that was the Cleveland Indians. Now a much needed break is around the corner.
All was well in Tiger Town on the evening of July 3. The Detroit Tigers were red hot, coming out on the winning end of 10 of their last 13 games. If it were not for the Indians the Tigers would be the hottest team in baseball. But, I guess that has been the story of the first half.
Still, the team was finally clicking at the right time, leading to some much needed wins. Then the Baseball Gods chose America’s most patriotic holiday to unravel the Tigers.
On the afternoon of July 4 many Tigers fans were celebrating their independence by partaking in a barbecue. Already worried about that evenings game vs Cleveland, Tigers fans received some bad news. Detroit Tigers ace Jordan Zimmermann was heading to the disabled list after battling a neck issue for many weeks. Michigan barbecues everywhere were ruined.
It didn’t take long for the evening to get worse. Daniel Norris took the mound later that evening in Cleveland only to exit in the early innings with an oblique injury.
Not one, but two starting pitchers heading to the disabled list on the same day. Not exactly the news Tigers fans wanted to hear regarding one of the teams weakest units.
It was just July 4 that plagued the Tigers however. The week that ensued was disappointing for Detroit, losing two of three to Cleveland and the first two games of their four game set to Toronto. On the bright side the Tigers finally beat Cleveland.
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Now limping into the All-Star break the Tigers are beat down, banged up and trying to salvage a series in Toronto. The disabled list practically looks like a major league ready team, the Tigers have struggled against Cleveland, and Mark Lowe is on the team and is still pitching poorly. The upcoming All-Star break will be just that, a much needed break.
Both of the team’s injured starting pitchers received positive news about their respective injuries. Zimmermann and Norris should not miss more than three weeks each. Factor in the struggle the Tigers are currently going through, plus the All-Star break and the pair will miss only a few meaningful starts.
Adding on the the list of players expecting to return soon is slugger J.D. Martinez. While some believe Steven Moya has been an adequate replacement, he has been a liability. Moya is like Pedro Cerano from the movie Major League. He hits fastballs far and looks like a fish out of water when anything with break is hurled in his direction.
The extra five days off should slate J.D. Martinez for a much needed return sometime within a week or two of the break.
Getting all these player healthy will be important for the stretch of games the Tigers play coming out of the break.
Detroit will play 13 of their first 19 games out of the break against American League Central teams including the Royals, White Sox and Twins.
Once again their is a bright side as they do not see Cleveland again until mid-September. The Tigers will need to beat up on their divisional opponents and the Boston Red Sox (who currently hold the second Wild Card spot) coming out of the break if they want to stay in contention. Getting healthy and rested will only help them.
It also may not be a bad thing the Tigers have only one representative heading to San Diego for the All-Star game. Miguel Cabrera probably deserves to start the game but barring an extra innings fiasco he will play less innings than the starters.
Ian Kinsler lost out in the Final Vote and is certainly deserving of being a reserve on the American League roster. Instead he will get to rest for five days as he prepares to likely play in nearly every game from here on out.
The best Tigers roster snub of all is Michael Fulmer who is already being geared to pitch less. The Tigers do not want Fulmer to pitch anymore than he has to and avoiding the All-Star game is likely the best thing for him.
Currently sitting at four games over .500, seven games behind Cleveland for the Central Division crown and 2.5 games back of the Wild Card, there should not be a ton of panic. While some believe the Tigers have been overachieving all year, the second half is a whole new season and anything can happen.
The Indians offense is overachieving heavily and although their starting staff is as legit as they come they are one of two injuries away from being very average. Then again who isn’t.
The White Sox offense has not shown any signs of life and Carlos Rodon is heading to the disabled list. Toronto likely does not have the pitching to make a deep run and are in a similar situation to Detroit as they are expected to lose their best young starter due to an innings limit. All hope is not lost for the hobbling Tigers who could be healthy and contending soon.