A 3-game series has come and gone for the Detroit Tigers. And in classic Motor City fashion, fans are abuzz over what they just saw. Losing 2 of 3 to the measly Twins simply shouldn’t happen.
Questions that have already arisen from a fairly insignificant series in early April include:
- Will the Tigers stink on the road again, thus preventing them from pulling away from the rest of the AL Central pack as their payroll suggests they should?
- Is the ‘closer by committee’ already being adjudicated as a failure?
- Is the writing on the wall via the signing of Jose Valverde that he will be this team’s closer before long?
- Why can’t the back end of the lineup hit?
First off, I suggest you breathe. Three games in April does not define the course of a season. This team’s ultimate destination is a playoff appearance via another AL Central crown.
But that doesn’t make what we just saw any more acceptable. To me, the problems of the Tigers both last year and through 1.9% of this season are that there is no sense of urgency. What do I mean by that?
Simple. Pitchers are pitching for October, not April. Hitters are pacing themselves, knowing what lies ahead. Jim Leyland is managing for 162 games, not three.
This can be unbearably frustrating to watch at times. Think of two of the Tigers’ playoff opponents last year – the A’s and Giants. Both teams perhaps achieved more than anyone thought they should have. To me, the reason why was because they played like their hair was on fire. They had places to go and doubters to disprove.
The Tigers simply do not operate this way. Should they? Yes, to some degree. Why must Rick Porcello tickle the mid 90’s in spring while fighting for his job only to average 91 MPH on the pitch during his first regular season start? Has he already relaxed?
Phil Coke is notorious for his struggles against right-handed hitters. What allowed him to overcome some of that during a dynamic run last October was that he ramped up his fastball to 95-96 MPH. in his two appearances so far this year it has been more like 90 MPH. That’s a huge difference and exactly why two weak-hitting righties got to him on Wednesday when he blew the save.
Detroit doesn’t have that one dynamic personality that they can call upon to fire the team up. The few that they’ve had in recent years have been Coke and Valverde, who are on the field for maybe one inning per game. Indeed, the Tigers trot out a bunch of businessmen.
This is something that isn’t likely to change anytime soon considering the current makeup of this team. So my best advice to all Tigers fans is to take it for what it’s worth, which is almost certainly a playoff team, and try to enjoy the ride that comes along with it.
159 games to go.
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