Well, if there is one thing the Detroit Tigers were consistently doing in the first half, it’s being streaky and inconsistent. Coming off a season-high six straight wins, Detroit followed it up with losing five of seven to end the unofficial first half of the baseball season.
Take it for what’s it worth, to each his own. Last week for the Tigers was not a good one on the surface of things. However, given they lost on the road to two of the hotter teams in the sport in the Cleveland Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays, and considering they endured to injuries to the starting rotation, AND they are only 6.5 games out of the division lead and 4 GB in the Wild Card, they’re getting by. Nothing more, nothing less.
Let’s dive a little more into the 2-5 record for the Tigers last week:
Detroit hit just .228 as a team last week against the Tribe and Blue Jays. Out of the ten position players who appeared in at least five games, only two hit over .250 during the week.
One of those was third baseman Nick Castellanos, who led the team in hits (8×24), runs (5), home runs (3) and RBI (8). Most players around the league are anxious for the break to come either because it gives them days off to rest, or they are in a bit of rut performance wise. Not Nick, though. The .333 clip he hit last week got him back over the .300 mark for the season, eclipsing a new career-high in HRs in the process.
The lack of production was evident though. The Tigers as a team hit just 20 extra-base-hits last week. Castellanos and Justin Upton accounted for eight of those 20. We all know it by now, by and large, Detroit goes as the 3-4 tandem of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez goes. Those two did not end the first half on a high note, hitting just a combined .196 (10×51). Cabrera did not have any XBH, while Victor’s one of two XBHs was the difference in salvaging one game in the four-game set.
All in all, it was not the strongest finish to the first half offensively.
BLIP ON THE RADAR
Remember how just a couple weeks ago, we were raving on how dominant the Tigers bullpen was and they were helping keep the team afloat? Well, they too stubbed their toe.
The pitching staff as a whole registered a 5.10 team ERA. And outside of Alex Wilson (3.1 IP, H) and one clean save opportunity from Francisco Rodriguez, many parts of the bullpen struggled in some capacity. Even rookie pitcher Dustin Molleken held his own last week, allowed just one ER in 4.2 innings of work.
Lefty Kyle Ryan got knocked around some, allowing 4 ER in just 2.0 IP. And while Bruce Rondon only allowed three hits in also 2.0 IP, two of the three hits left the yard.
The starting rotation by and large was really effective outside of two more rocky outings from Anibal Sanchez, who allowed 12 ER in just 8.2 innings logged last week. However, the combination of Justin Verlander, Michael Fulmer, Mike Pelfrey, and Matt Boyd in a spot start, combined for a sub-2.00 ERA in their starts. It was announced late Sunday morning prior to their series finale in Toronto what the rotation will look like coming out of the All-Star break.
The Tigers rotation post-All-Star break: Verlander, Pelfrey, Fulmer. TBD after that.
— Aaron McMann (@AaronMcMann) July 10, 2016
The ‘TBD’ is due to Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Norris being on the disabled list, and while their injuries are not deemed serious, their timetable to return is still relatively uncertain at this point.
The break allows for the Tigers to give Michael Fulmer another long stretch of days off in between starts, as they continue to monitor his innings limit for the season.
LOOK AHEAD TO NEXT WEEK
As stated before, the break will come as a huge sigh of relief for much of the big leaguers around baseball. That four-day mental week off from competitive play is a good way to recharge the batteries. Only one Tiger representative is heading to San Diego, Miguel Cabrera, who is also the long reserve at the first base position for the American League bunch.
When Detroit and the rest of Major League Baseball return to season action on Friday, they will finally return home for the first time since June 29 when they welcome in the division rival Kansas City Royals for the first time in 2016. The Tigers have played just two series against the Royals, both in K.C. and are 2-5 against them.
However, the recent struggles of the Royals are also a big reason as to why the Tigers have not completely fallen on their faces yet and are still hunting for a playoff spot. Kansas City finished just 3-7 down the stretch of the first half and are tied with Chicago at 7 GB in the AL Central.
They too have been hindered by a combination of injuries and lack of production. Since Detroit last played them, the Royals have placed center fielder Lorenzo Cain and closer Wade Davis on the DL. As of now, it is likely that neither Cain or Davis will be ready to go before the series at Comerica, but that is subject to change.
The pitching rotation has been a question mark for K.C. over the last couple seasons, and this year is no different. Starters Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura combined to compile a sub-5.00 ERA this season.