The 2014 Major League Baseball season has been in full swing for more than three weeks and the Detroit Tigers have a 9-6 record. Let’s examine how the Tigers are doing as a team, as well as individually.
Good: Winning ways
Detroit has a 7-3 record at Comerica Park and the Tigers are 7-1 when scoring three or more runs.
Bad: Bullpen struggles
Tigers relief pitchers are responsible for the fourth highest ERA in the AL at 4.96. Relievers have a record of 4-1 but that’s largely due to the inability of Detroit’s bullpen to hold onto leads, but the offense’s ability to win the game anyway. The Tigers are just 4-for-6 in save opportunities.
Good: Aggressiveness on the basepaths
Detroit already has 15 stolen bases on the season, good for second best in the AL, and Detroit is the only team to average at least one steal per game.
The Tigers have also shown that they aren’t afraid to go for the extra base on balls in play, there’s no greater example of that then Ian Kinsler scoring from first base on a walk in Sunday’s victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
Bad: Offensive production
Detroit has failed to score more than two runs in 7-of-15 games this season, posting a 2-5 record in such games.
The Tigers plated the second-most runs in 2013, averaging 4.91 per game. In comparison, Detroit has averaged just 4.13 runs per game so far in 2014.
If that pace were to continue throughout the season, the Tigers would score roughly 126 fewer runs than they did last season.
Good: Starting pitching
It’s almost a commonality that one of the Tigers’ weakest assets is relief pitching, whereas Detroit’s starting rotation has consistently proven to be one of the strongest assets.
Tigers starters have the second-lowest ERA in the AL, 2.90, and they have allowed the fewest home runs, 5.
Impressive starts: Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez, Justin Verlander, and Max Scherzer
Kinsler has provided a spark to the Tigers offense in the most crucial times. He’s batting .317, with two homers and leads the team with 11 RBI. Kinsler also leads the club in runs scored, 12, has stolen three bases and hit four doubles. He’s also made some crafty plays at second base without committing an error.
V-Mart has gotten off to a hot start himself batting .308, with three home runs and seven RBI. Surprisingly enough, he was the first Detroit player to steal a base this season.
Verlander has continued to pitch like he did in last year’s postseason. In four starts, JV has a 2.08 ERA, recorded 20 strikeouts, and posted a 2-1 record. He also got his first career hit against the Los Angeles Dodgers and is batting .667 on the season! (3 at-bats)
Scherzer hasn’t gotten the run support that he has in recent years but is still 1-1 with an ERA of 2.33. In 27 innings, Scherzer has struck out 34 batters, giving him an average of 11.83 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
Disappointing starts: Miguel Cabrera, Alex Gonzalez, Alex Avila, and Joe Nathan
After trading for Gonzalez just before Opening Day, Detroit has released the veteran shortstop this past weekend. Andrew Romine and Danny Worth will receive most of the playing time at short.
Avila is one of the best catchers behind the plate throughout the league, but he has gotten off to a slow start at the plate. He is hitting .167 and is yet to drive in a run.
Nathan has blown 2-of-5 save opportunities this season, posting a 7.04 ERA. He has complained of a “dead arm” but says that it’s only a matter of time before he turns things around. Hopefully sooner than later.
The Tigers open a four-game series at home against the Chicago White Sox on Monday before traveling to Minnesota for a three-game series against the Twins.