Despite the sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners, the Detroit Tigers are still sitting in a spot that could put them in the post season.
Is the good playing due to something special with the players, or is it time to actually give Brad Ausmus some credit for quality Detroit Tigers baseball?
According to Drew Sharp with the Detroit Free Press, the answer is yes. In his latest column, Sharp actually suggests that Ausmus could be a candidate for AL Manager of the Year.
It is a rare person who actually says anything nice about the third-year manager. He is usually harshly criticized for his mismanagement of the bullpen and from leaving starting pitchers on the mound too long. Not to mention playing James McCann against right-handed pitchers when Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a much better hitter against them.
From Bottom-Dwellers to Post-Season Contenders
Sharp makes a good argument about Ausmus earning more respect than he is usually given. His argument is all about the fact that the Tigers were bottom-dwellers at the beginning of the season. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez could not put the ball in play. Justin Verlander could not get a win, and the relief pitching was horrendous. But, the Tigers – especially the manager – did not give up.
Obviously, it is easy to lead a team of winners. Also, it is easy to please a happy crowd. The challenge comes with keeping a team of big egos and a $200 million guaranteed payroll to keep on competing. It would have been easy for the team to quit on Ausmus and encourage the general manager and the owner to fire him mid-season. The fans would have loved it, but the players kept on playing and they started to win.
Admit it. That 10-out-of-13 winning streak was fun to watch.
And, the season isn’t over yet. It is safe to say that another winning streak will happen.
Winning Despite the Plethora of Injuries
Sharp also praised Ausmus and the Tigers for their wins with so many injuries. Jordan Zimmermann hasn’t been able to pitch effectively in a long time – and he might not stand on the mound for the rest of the season. Only 3 of the 10 wins were with J.D. Martinez batting – seven of them were with Mike Aviles or Tyler Collins in his place. These 10 wins were collected with Mike Pelfrey, Matt Boyd, and Anibal Sanchez on the mound.
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Sharp’s argument to give Ausmus is logical. Fans are quick to criticize the manager when the team is losing. It will take time for Tigers fans to warm up to anything good about Ausmus. After the next road series against the Texas Rangers, the Tigers have four series at home with a quick three-game road trip to Minnesota in between them.
If Ausmus truly deserves the kudos that Sharp thinks he does, the Detroit Tigers will need to show their ferocity with more wins at home. With the added injuries of Nick Castellanos and Cameron Maybin (and maybe even Shane Greene), Ausmus will have to manage his heart out to keep the Tigers competitive.
So, can he do it? Only time (and 13 home games in August) will tell. I, for one, will be rooting for his success and the team’s success.