Weekly Recap: Tigers pounce on Wild Card contenders with pair of sweeps

After tying a season-high six straight wins and currently standing at a season’s best nine games over the .500 mark, the Tigers sit just 4.5 games back of division leading Cleveland and 1 GB in the Wild Card race.

July has come and gone and to start the new month is the non-waiver trade deadline, which is set for 4 p.m. ET on Monday. Does this recent surge make the Tigers more inclined to wear the buyer’s hat now? That remains to be seen. But for now, let’s look back at who really stepped up in the last seven days.

ARMED AND READY

Photo Credit: Tom Haggerty/Flickr
Photo Credit: Tom Haggerty/Flickr

The pitching staff as a whole posted a very impressive 3.03 ERA in the team’s last six victories. A big part of that was the bullpen, where eight different pitchers combined to allow just three ER over 16.3 IP.

One guy who did not wanna see the calendar flip to August is Shane Greene. Two more scoreless frames for Greene last week capped off a 0.93 ERA in the month of July, shaving more than a run off his season ERA of 4.14 in that span. Shane was one of five Tigers relievers to not allow an ER last week.

Joining Greene in the “I don’t want July to end.” club is Alex Wilson, who one-upped Greene by not allowing a single run over 9.2 innings of work in July. Going back to June 3, Wilson has registered a 1.11 ERA (3 ER in 24.1 IP) and has taken more than two runs off his season ERA.

In the rotation, Detroit still anxiously awaits the return of both Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Norris. However, the rest of the cast has more than held its own in their absence. The foursome of Justin VerlanderMichael FulmerMatt Boyd and Mike Pelfrey recorded a solid 3.35 ERA. A little flexibility in the schedule with days off allowed for manager Brad Ausmus to shuffle the rotation around some and give guys some extra rest.

However, Pelfrey exited Sunday’s start after five scoreless innings and just 82 pitches thrown, reportedly with back stiffness. The MRI Pelfrey received showed a mild grade 1 back strain, so a day off for the club on Monday will help Pelfrey and company get ready for this week.

BASH BROS. BACK AT IT AGAIN

Photo Credit: Keith Allison/Flickr
Photo Credit: Keith Allison/Flickr

Remember how we always talk about how as Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martínez go, so do the Tigers? Well that was on full display last week.

The most feared 3-4 combo in baseball went a combined 19-for-44 (.432 BA) last week. Four of Cabrera’s nine hits left the yard, driving in nine in the process. Victor drove in a pair of runs himself and led the team with 10 base knocks, all of them singles.We all know Victor’s running ability is severely limited these days, but if he’s getting on base and keeping the line moving it is hard to ask for much more. In fact, his last extra-base-hit came back on July 9, a solo homer in Toronto.

Catcher James McCann found the power surge last week as well, clubbing three of the team’s 15 big flies. All three have come in the last four games, the big blow coming on Sunday with a first-inning grand slam, the first of his big league career. Hopefully this recent 5-for-15 stretch will spark his bat for a good stretch considering he was 8-for-47 coming into the series against Boston after a solid .266 BA in June.

Oddly enough, the two biggest noteworthy names that struggled at the dish last week were Ian Kinsler and Nick Castellanos. The two combined hit just .184 (9-for-49) with one XBH and two RBI. We have to assume they’re mere blips on the radar given the way they have performed all season long to this point.

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LOOK AHEAD TO NEXT WEEK

Chicago White Sox

Detroit will get an always much-needed off day on Monday before resuming their current nine-game homestand when the Chicago White Sox make their second trip to Comerica Park.

The Tigers just finished up a four-game series on the south side of Chicago just eight days ago and quite frankly, they let the White Sox off the hook with a pair of losses in walk-off fashion on that Sunday. Since then, Chicago has continued to plummet in the standings. They went 3-4 last week, which was capped with a series loss in Minnesota. They are now 10.5 games back of the Indians in the American League Central.

The Tigers will see some familiar faces once again, it will be the third time that they will oppose Chicago starters James Shields (6.55 ERA in 2 starts vs. DET), Chris Sale (4.73 ERA in 2 starts vs. DET) and Jose Quintana (3.97 ERA in 2 starts vs. DET). They will also need to, for the life of them, find a way to slow down Chicago outfielders Melky Cabrera and Adam Eaton. Cabrera is hitting .310 vs. the Tigers this season, while Eaton is hitting at an absurd .425 clip with six XBH and nine RBI against Detroit.

New York Mets

Meet the Mets! The defending National League champions are the home of a very stout pitching staff but one of the weaker offenses in all of baseball.

New York ranks in the top 10 in team ERA (3.35 – 3rd), quality starts (62 – 4th), WHIP (1.23 – 7th) and BAA (.251 – 10th). However, their offensive numbers are quite putrid, they boast the worst team batting average in all of baseball (.237) and are 28th in runs scored. A very station-to-station club, they are already one of the worst teams with runners in scoring position in league history (.206 BA w/ RISP).

Having said that, they are still in the thick of a bunched up National League playoff picture, 6.5 GB of division-leading Washington and 2.5 GB in the NL Wild Card, despite being just four games over .500. Their pitching has saved them to say the least and Detroit will get a taste of it this upcoming weekend. In two of the three games, the Tigers will face Noah Syndergaard (9-5, 2.48 ERA) and Jacob deGrom (6-5, 2.56 ERA), two perennial NL Cy Young candidates. They will see an old friend in Yoenis Céspedes, who has been by far the Mets’ best offensive producer all season long, leading the club in every major offensive category.

The Mets and Tigers have squared off 18 times since interleague play began back in 1997, with Detroit taking 10 of those. The two teams last played in 2013 at Citi Field, where the Tigers swept the Mets. The last time New York visited Comerica, they took two of three and spanked the Tigers around, outscoring them 35-14. Oddly enough, the one loss for the Mets in that series came when Mike Pelfrey started the game.

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