The Detroit Tigers are desperate to get J.D. Martinez back on the field. A healthy Martinez in the middle of the lineup could be the difference in whether they are able to reach the postseason in 2016.
Detroit Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez has been out since fracturing his elbow on June 16 against the Royals and it’s become apparent to anyone that’s paying attention that this team misses him dearly.
It hasn’t been the best year for the Tigers offense, but the panic button was never really close to being hit until this week, when this supposedly high-powered group struggled mightily with the lowly Minnesota Twins.
The Tigers scored just four runs in 27 innings in their series with Minnesota, putting up just one run in Monday’s contest before being shutout on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they got a leadoff home run from Ian Kinsler on the game’s first pitch and nothing more after that.
As good as Nick Castellanos has been this season, he just doesn’t strike fear into opponents the way that J.D. does. With J.D. in the lineup, it gives Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez the protection they need to see pitches that they can do some serious damage with.
Oh, and J.D. is also pretty good with the bat.
He was hitting .286 with 12 home runs and 39 RBI prior to the injury.
For this offense to click the way its capable of clicking, it’s necessary for J.D. to be backing up Cabrera and Victor.
Perhaps an underrated part of J.D.’s game is his defense, which is by no means at an elite level, but it’s definitely better than what this team has had out in right field since he hit the disabled list.
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After clearing a CT scan last week (per MLive.com), J.D. was told by team doctors that he’s ahead of schedule in his recovery.
With a late July return appearing to be what he’s on schedule for, J.D. could need a minor-league rehab assignment before he’s able to join the big club again. I wouldn’t plan on him being down there to long, however. He’s just too important.
It’s no secret that Cabrera has been struggling lately. Forget how unthinkable it is to see him hitting under .300. Against the Twins, his average has dropped under .290. The big man is in desperate need of a break, and if J.D. was in the lineup, manager Brad Ausmus would likely feel more comfortable in giving him one.
For all of their faults, the Tigers are sitting in second place in the American League Central Division. They have a very real shot at catching Cleveland or nabbing one of the two Wild Card spots. July is coming to a close and August is when pretenders start falling by the wayside when it comes to the race for the postseason. Once J.D. comes back, he’ll have to hit the ground running. If he does, that will solve what is ailing this lineup right now.
The starting pitching? Well, that’s another story…