To take a play on a famous song by Detroit native rapper Eminem – Will the real Detroit Tigers please stand up? As a Tigers fan, this week had to be a maddening one. Coming off of the bad weekend last week in Oakland against the A’s, the Tigers lost two of three to the Los Angeles Angels, & in the first game and a half of the series, looked absolutely awful and not like a team that was trying to win the AL Central.
But, in the middle of game two of the Angels series, the Tigers flipped that switch. That weird switch that this team seems to love to turn off & on this season, leading to them being exactly what they play like…..a .500 team that you aren’t really sure if they are coming or going most series. The team came back from being down 9-2 in the game to tie it up in the 7th inning at 9-9, capped off with an Ian Kinsler grand slam home run, as well as J.D. Martinez & Miguel Cabrera getting their bats hot again with home runs. Yes, the Tigers lost the game on a walk-off home run, but the team had regained their life & their energy again, a positive sign the Tigers took into the end of the week against the White Sox.
This week, towards the end of the week, we did get to see a lot of signs that our Tigers are starting to progress towards a (coughs) possible playoff position & a chance to get back into the AL Central race.
Here are a few bits that we took away from the Detroit Tigers week that was:
Tigers Finally Sent Anibal Sanchez To Bullpen
Anibal Sanchez has been having a very rough year so far. He doesn’t have a win since April & his stamina has gotten worse & worse as the season has gone on. He has been very average for the most part, but when he gets past the fifth inning in games, he seems to completely fall apart. Teams are making him throw a ton of pitches & are wearing him down by the time he gets late in the game.
The move happened after the 11-9 loss to the Angels & Sanchez went three innings, giving up six hits & six earned runs. He has only given up less than three runs in a game twice in ten appearances. If the Tigers were to cut Sanchez right now, they would have to eat about $48 million in salary. Sanchez will make $16 million for the next two seasons & will be a free agent for the 2019 season, when he will be 35 years old.
Overall, Sanchez has had an okay career here in Detroit, going 83-80 with a 3.82 ERA, but right now, it just seems as though it may be time to either let Sanchez being a major player in the bullpen or try to see if Sanchez has any real trade value if the Tigers want to try to improve the team for a potential playoff run.
Mike Pelfrey Gets First Victory With Tigers
Mike Pelfrey has been pitching well enough to have received his first victory with the Detroit Tigers for the last three starts, but he finally got that first win on Friday night against the Chicago White Sox. Pelfrey got some great run support while only allowing two runs over 6.2 innings, while striking out three batters.
With Pelfrey pitching well lately, the blow to have Sanchez move to the bullpen won’t be as massive during the present time. Right now, Pelfrey is pitching like a #3 starter right now, right behind Justin Verlander & Jordan Zimmermann. We need to see about two more starts from Pelfrey to solidify him as the guy in the rotation going forward, however, it looks like he is turning his season around & getting more of the breaks needed to get win decisions for this Tigers team.
Detroit Tigers Still Need To Show Consistency
While the pitching issues are still getting worked out, the Tigers are still not giving fans full confidence right now that the team is truly turning things around & are on the upswing. The team looked very weak against the A’s, looked terrible for a game & a half against the Angels, they fought back against the Yankees (we will let that slide because of coming back from the west coast & it was a makeup game) & swept the Chicago White Sox to end the weekend.
The bats have seemed to wake up a bit during the White Sox series & at a great time as the team is sitting 4th in the AL Central, while the White Sox are a half game ahead in the division. The Tigers team that swept Chicago is the team that can definitely catch the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central race, only being 3.5 games around going into Monday. The pitching situation needs to get taken care of and while we do believe the starting pitching could be solid with Verlander, Pelfrey & Zimmermann, there are big questions in terms of what happens with Shane Greene & is Michael Fulmer for real?
The team is hitting .339 over their last 5 games & will have a great matchup against the Toronto Blue Jays & starting pitcher J.A. Happ on Monday night. Justin Upton, Victor Martinez & Ian Kinsler have all had great success against Happ, who leads the Blue Jays in victories with 6; however, the Blue Jays feature one of the best offenses in baseball, led by Michael Saunders & Josh Donaldson.
Taking this series against a good Toronto team will help fans believe in the Tigers gaining more momentum.