Brock’s Random Thoughts: The Tigers, 2 Months In
We're just about at the one-third mark of the Major League Baseball season. And the Tigers outlook is a lot murkier than it was a month ago. Here are my thoughts on the team, position-by-position at this point (morning of May 30th).
Starting pitching: Everybody except Anibal Sanchez has hit a rough patch. Justin Verlander hasn't been himself in May. He's only 5-4 with a 4.04 ERA, his fastball is slower and it doesn't look like teams fear him anymore. Max Scherzer has struggled. His ERA is 3.00, which is a far cry from the sub-2.00 it was just two weeks ago. Rick Porcello has been going through a rough stretch as well, despite the 8-2 record. Drew Smyly hasn't been very good either. It's a legitimate concern. Something that was unthinkable even two weeks ago.
Lineup: Rajai Davis has come back to earth a bit. He's fallen to .295 and isn't fielding his left field position nearly as good as he should. The return of Andy Dirks is needed, and should come in the next month or so.
Ian Kinsler has leveled off as well. But he's still hitting .318 with 23 RBI's. His defense has been spotty, but Dave Dombrowski made a good move upgrading at 2nd Base.
Torii Hunter's defense is a problem. His nearly 39 year old legs are really starting to show their age in the outfield. He's still hitting .282 with 8 HR's, which is fine.
Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez continue their awesomeness. Cabrera's warmed up to .323 with 8 HR's and 46 RBI's. You knew that would happen. And Victor Martinez should be starting in the All-Star Game at DH. .344 with 12 HR's and 31 RBI's. Tremendous.
Austin Jackson has dropped off to .250 and is starting to strike out again at his normal pace. 34 K's in 47 games. He's a terrific center fielder though, they need his bat to heat up again.
Alex Avila's beatings he takes behind the plate are starting to affect him again. .217 with 51 K's is unacceptable. He's a good receiver at catcher, and his dad is in the front office. Those are his positives right now.
Nick Castellanos has dropped off, too. That's not unexpected for a rookie. He's messed up everywhere. At the plate, field, and on the basepaths. But he shows great potential. The Tigers will stick with him at 3rd Base and they should.
The experiment of Andrew Romine and Danny Worth at shortstop isn't working. They are fine defensive infielders but are hitting at or below the Mendoza Line (.200, for those who don't know). I hear that the Tigers are scouting their farmhands Eugenio Suarez and Hernan Perez, who are both in Toledo now. If things don't change soon, expect one or both of them in Detroit in the near-future.
Bullpen: Phil Coke stinks and doesn't deserve a job on this team. Ian Krol has been fine. Al Albuquerque has been his usual self: inconsistent. Joba Chamberlain has settled the 8th inning for the most part. But if Joe Nathan can't close games, as he's had trouble doing the last week or so, it won't matter. Nathan's drop-off is alarming.
Manager Brad Ausmus (pictured above) has been fine. I like his aggressiveness on the bases. You can argue his move this week of taking out Anibal Sanchez after 8 1/3 innings against Oakland. But the fact that he's not Jim Leyland has earned him a bit of a pass. But not as much as other rookie managers. Why??? Because this team has to win the World Series this year. And everybody knows it, for a variety of reasons (Owner Mike Ilitch's health, etc.). They just need their guys to regain their mojo that they had two weeks ago. And I think they will. If they don't, major changes will happen. Either during the season or after.