It is not a familiar role for Tigers fans to be in. It has been a long time since this team ran away with a divisional championship but this is still a roster with glaring needs and it will be up to General Manager Dave Dombrowski to make the right move that puts this team over the top. If he does not his legacy could be tarnished. He could wind up being the guy who made a few great moves spent a billion dollars on payroll to get close. We shall see on that one.
As always we look at the splits to see where this team may be lacking. Overall they are 42-32. Over the last 10 they are 6-4. At home they look almost unstoppable (again on most night) with a 26-13 record. On the road they are a pretty disappointing 16-19. The theme of the season is this is a team that doesn't play well against the better teams. However the 2013 Tigers record against opponents with a winning record is 24-17. that is not great but is pretty good. Where the team is not so good is in close games and extra inning affairs. In one run games they are just 8-11. In extra inning games they are 2-7. Those numbers seem to suggest the biggest flaw on this roster is the bullpen. We shall see how that plays out over the next month or so.
- Max Scherzer- What more can be said about a guy who has started 11-0. In a year where Justin Verlander is struggling more than usual it has been Max that has performed like the ace of this staff. In a contract year one has to wonder if the team will be able to afford Max moving forward. Right now Max is making a very strong case to start the All Star Game, and a very real case for the Cy Young award.
- Austin Jackson- What a difference he makes at the top of the order. Since returning from the Disabled List Austin is hitting .457 with a home run and 5 RBI. He is the table setter for this offense and it runs a lot better with him hitting lead off.
- Drew Smyly- The one bright spot of a bullpen that is a complete disaster. Drew is killing it. His ERA is 1.75 and his K/9 innings is 8.94. Drew has pitched 46.1 innings and given up just one home run and 9 earned runs while racking up 2 saves and 7 holds.
- Justin Verlander- sure he is 8-5 but he has not been the dominating force we have seen over the last two years. After some struggles with control; yesterday his ERA has climbed to 3.90 second highest to Rick Porcello on the starting staff. It now seems like this is a mental issue and someone needs to get inside JV's head.
- Alex Avila- I know I know the kid is on the DL, but he went 0-3 in Toledo in his first rehab start and the bottom of the Tigers order needs him to hit better. It really is that simple.
- Jose Valverde- This ridiculous experiment is finally at a end. How did no one see that he didn't have his split finger anymore? This was such a bad idea and it really speaks to flaws in the tigers scouting staff.