Can you believe the 2016 Major League Baseball is already a quarter of the way complete? Neither can we.
The Tigers through 40 games stand at 19-21, 5.5 games out of the American League Central division lead and 3.0 games back of a Wild Card spot. A recent stretch where they lost 11 of 12 seemingly saw everyone struggled in some capacity, causing dips in performances.
Some would suspect the team is severely underachieving and it is a continuation of how they finished the 2015 season, while others think considering the schedule through the first 40 games and the general makeup of the team, they are right where they should be, give or take a few games.
Regardless of which side you stand on, they are still in the thick of the highly-competitive AL and by no means out of the hunt for a playoff spot.
We’re 40 games in, so figured it’d be good to hand out some quarterly reports and grades.
1. STARTING ROTATION
The rotation ERA is currently 4.77, ranking 22nd in the league through May 19 games. And that’s actually an improvement based on their recent stretch of winning four straight.
New Tigers ace Jordan Zimmermann has been worth every dime Detroit spent on him last November. In eight starts, Zimmermann is 6-2 with a 2.45 ERA and that spiked up after being charged with 7 ER in his last outing.
Despite that, he’s been as reliable as ever for the Tigers, and we could only imagine where the club would be without this horse going to the post every fifth day. (Zimmermann: A)
Justin Verlander as of late has been vintage Justin Verlander. He’s recorded a quality start in seven of his nine outings this year, the two outliers he yielded 7 ER, which explains his 4.58 ERA. In his last three starts though, Verlander has allowed just 4 ER in his last 22.1 innings.
He’s trending back up to say the least, which is encouraging for the team and fans. (Verlander: B)
The rotation gets a little murky after that. There’s Anibal Sanchez who cannot quite get over his 6th inning mental block. Over the last few outings, Sanchez will show glimpses of righting the ship but then will get knocked around in one inning, virtually taking the wind out of the Tigers’ sails.
Until Anibal shows consistent progression in lowering that 5.91 ERA, he’s a huge wild card at this point. (Sanchez: C-)
The other new Tigers start this season, veteran Mike Pelfrey has been under fire for his lackluster outings early in the season, and Pelfrey would be the first one to tell you his shortcomings. There was a stretch in late April and early May where there were rumbles of what the Tigers were going to do, after allowing 5 ER in three consecutive starts and ballooning his ERA to 6.23.
Since then, he’s compiled back-to-back starts of 5.1 innings and allowing 2 ER. It’s a major improvement considering his struggles earlier, but it needs to continue if he wants to keep that rotation spot. (Pelfrey: D+)
Tigers fifth starter Shane Greene is going to be given an ‘incomplete’ grade largely because we only have two full starts to grade him on. Greene had one good outing on the road in Pittsburgh, then one clunker against the Royals. He appeared to put together another good start until being put on the DL.
Since Greene was put on the shelf, Tigers top prospect Michael Fulmer has been promoted and filled in admirably for having little work at the Triple-A level and making the jump to the show.
The ERA would suggest he’s throwing the ball poorly at 6.52 but considering he’s filling in for the moment, we’ll take it. He’s 2-1 and has gone no more than 5 innings in any of his outings and has punched out 22 batters in 19.1 innings logged, walking 9. (Fulmer: C/INC)