Wednesday marked the end of the second month of the Major League Baseball season and the Detroit Tigers are not faring as well as we’d projected here at Detroit Sports Nation. The Tigers own a record of 25-28 and are 3 games back of the American Central Division-leading Minnesota Twins (?!). The Twins share that lead with the Cleveland Indians (them again?).
The question is, how have the Tigers acquired such a paltry record? With 16 losses in the month of May, it’s pretty safe to say that the train is off the tracks. Perhaps, it never left the station.
The Tigers staff here at DSN discusses each loss and tries to associate a reason or part of the team that shoulders most of the blame. You can find my breakdown of this data for the first month of the season by clicking right here.
The numbers and analysis gathered by the Tigers Loss Tracker is not scientific, but, the Tracker gives us a little more insight than just a straight up won/loss record. So, let’s take a look:
Here is the breakdown of the 16 losses in May:
- Starting Pitching: 1
- Bullpen: 4
- Offense: 8
- Team: 2
- Outlier: 1
Let’s delve a little deeper into why we assigned those numbers.
Starting Pitching – 1 loss
The starting rotation was expected to be a strength of the team this season. It seems like the starters have not been strong, especially Jordan Zimmermann who leads the Tigers in disappointment this year, but, we only have them credited with one loss in May. The only consistent bright spot has been Michael Fulmer who is a star in the making.
The culprit this time was Daniel Norris on May 19. The young left-hander gave up 5 earned runs in 5.2 innings of work. Detroit ended up losing the game 5-3 after a failed comeback attempt in the 9th inning.
Bullpen – 4 losses
The Tigers bullpen had a rough start to the month when Francisco Rodriguez blew saves in consecutive nights against the Oakland A’s. Since then things have settled down. Shane Greene is pitching quite well in middle relief. Even Warwick Saupold is on the upswing.
6 straight outs by Warwick Saupold: 4-3, 1u, 4-3, 6-3, 6-3, 1-3. He's now pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings in current stint w/ Tigers.
— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) June 1, 2017
The two losses not on KRod were on May 16 on a blown save by Justin Wilson. Alex Wilson gave up a solo shot in the 8th inning effectively handing the game to the Houston Astros on May 25. Other than that, this group had a solid May.
Offense – 8 losses
Here is the real issue with the team in month two. The bats have stayed quiet and consequently, the offense has gotten the blame for 50% of the losses this month. On May 3, 12, 13, 22, 23, 27, 28, and 30 the Tigers combined for 8 runs and were shut out 4 times. This tweet sums it up nicely.
A team with Cabrera, VMart, JDMart, Upton and Kinsler (combined salary: $90.875MM) is in jeopardy of being shut out for the 5th time already
— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) May 31, 2017
Team – 2 losses
On May 10th against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the offense only produced 1 run. However, Anibal Sanchez gave up 3 ER in the 7th inning. This extended the lead to the final score of 7-1 and pretty much erased any chance for a Detroit comeback.
May 21st was one of those games where a lot went wrong. Matthew Boyd wasn’t sharp giving up 4 ER in 5.2 innings, the offense only produced 2 runs on 7 hits, and Tigers killer Mike Napoli hit another home run. Because…of course, he did.
Not much good happening in these games anywhere on the roster for Detroit.
Outlier – 1 loss
There is no doubt that Detroit had a brutal travel schedule in May. Especially in the back end of the month. A late game on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball led to an early morning arrival in Houston. Detroit proceeded to lose the Houston series.
Their arrival in Chicago to play the White Sox was also around 4:00 am on a day where they were scheduled to play a doubleheader. Of course, the first game of the doubleheader was postponed due to weather and the team sat around all day waiting to play the second game. The predictable result of an 8-2 loss happened.
Sometimes the travel schedule gets tough. On the other hand, that’s baseball. I think it’s fair to chalk one loss up as an outlier due to fatigue.
It’s pretty clear that the offense is in a slump. There are some reasons for this beyond fatigue and that baseball is a game of failure at the plate. Ian Kinsler and James McCann are currently injured. Miguel Cabrera may still have some lingering injury issues as well. The reality is, this team has the talent to get back in the flow offensively. Read the latest Section 313 for a quality breakdown of how that will likely happen.
Ever the optimist, I’m expecting an offensive turnaround for Detroit in the month of June. The schedule is pretty favorable and there is an opportunity at the end of the month to rattle off some wins against AL Central Division opponents.
Hang in there, Tigers Nation. With the bullpen on the right track and the starting pitching staying solid, the offense will come around. Look for this team to be in good shape by Independence Day.