Tigers' awful series vs Braves cements their trade deadline approach

Detroit needed a lot more than that got out of their series against Atlanta.
Detroit Tigers v Atlanta Braves
Detroit Tigers v Atlanta Braves / Casey Sykes/GettyImages

When the AL Central's fourth-place Detroit Tigers got to Atlanta to face the NL East's second-place Braves, a team that should never be counted out despite their struggles this year relative to last, Detroit fans knew their team would have an uphill battle to fight. The Tigers left a dropped series against the Astros, who currently have the same losing record as Detroit, and headed east for three games. A single win would've been enough to leave a spark of hope in Tigers fans.

Sadly, that isn't what we got. Game 1 ended 2-1 Braves, an incredibly disappointing result for Reese Olson, who pitched six innings and struck out eight batters while keeping the Braves scoreless. Game 2 went the same way (2-1 Braves), with Atlanta taking advantage of starter Casey Mize in the first inning and Tigers bats going silent apart from an RBI triple from Riley Greene.

Game 3 had the makings of something more hopeful. Tarik Skubal was the starter for Detroit. If Olson and Mize could stave off the Braves' bats, then the Tigers' first, best shot at having a Cy Young-winning pitcher on the roster since Max Scherzer surely could too, right?

Not so. Skubal pitched arguably his worst game of the season so far, going only four innings and giving up five runs (four earned), including two homers. Meanwhile, Tigers bats still could not get working in any substantial way. They got eight hits off Braves pitchers, but none turned into runs.

Tigers swept at the hands of Braves, exposing all of Detroit's flaws as trade deadline nears

Everything that could go wrong for the Tigers went wrong this week. Starting pitching was inconsistent, hitting almost nonexistent, and the bullpen continued in its backslide in Game 1 by costing the Tigers at least some kind of fighting chance after Olson's start. All told, the Braves scored 11 runs through the series; the Tigers scored two.

Something's gotta give. The Tigers, who were projected as one of the more hopeful comeback teams going into the season, have slipped to 6.5 games behind the last AL Wild Card spot, tied with the Astros and Rangers. Playoff potential seems nil at this point.

The trade deadline is on July 30, and the Tigers have seemed to equivocate a bit on what their role in it should be. Jack Flaherty is certainly on the table, and now it seems almost guaranteed that he'll be leaving the team for the second half of the season. Even Tarik Skubal, who Tigers fans would despair to see leave Detroit, might be a possibility now.

"Maybe next year" is a familiar refrain for this team, and it seems that we're barreling straight back into that territory, if we're not there already. Now, the Tigers just need to actually be aggressive at the deadline to give some of that potential we saw during the offseason a fighting chance of actually materializing next year.