It’s like beating a dead horse with a stick but it bears repeating: Everyone knows about the Detroit Tigers first half struggles. And with the team that was assembled, rightfully so media outlets and everyone around the league keep letting the Tigers know where they are in the standings.
The Detroit Tigers have been playing better; 7-3 in their last 10 games and have taken sole possession of second place and are only 3.5 games out of first. But will they win the AL Central?
Here are three reasons why and why they will not win the AL Central.
Will win the AL Central
Justin Verlander: When the Tigers have been in long losing streaks and are in dire need of a win, Verlander has always been there to bail them out. The Tigers may not have the strongest rotation in the central but they do have the best pitcher in it. Verlander has not had quite the same season has he had last year, but that was next to impossible to repeat. Still, 10-5 with a 2.43 ERA while leading the league in complete games, innings pitched, WHIP, and has 136 strikeouts, isn’t too shabby, either. Having this guy in your rotation is always a plus and always puts you in position to win every fifth day.
Solid offense: The Tigers were shutout for the first time in 158 games — which is a franchise record — on Tuesday night. This is a testament to how good the offense has been. The Tigers rank 9th in runs, 4th in batting average, 5th in OBP, and 9th in slugging. Not to mention Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera have combined for 35 home runs, and 139 RBIs.
Austin Jackson is having a career year and Quintin Berry has provided speed that Tigers fans haven’t saw since the days of Alex Sanchez. With lackluster pitching at some points, it’s nice to know the offense can make up some runs.
It’s a weak division: The Tigers will probably need 88 wins to win the central. With how bad the Tigers had played in the first half and three games into the official start of the second half, and have already moved into second place — it just goes to show if the Tigers do have a couple of bad stretches, it doesn’t take long to get back into the race in the central.
Jose Valverde: No one expected Valverde to go 49-for-49 in save chances again, but no one expected Valverde to be as bad as he has been. On Opening Day “Papa Grande” blew a save in his first chance. It should of been a tell tale sign of what Tigers fans should expect for the rest of the year. Already blowing four saves and Valverde’s ERA is nearly four. There could be some must win games down the stretch that the Tigers could lose because of Valverde inability to close games out.
Shaky rotation: Minus Verlander, the Tigers rotation has not been that good. Doug Fister has had injury problems, which has help inflate his numbers this year. Rick Porcello looked like he maybe coming around in the month of June, but has a 7.00 ERA in the month of July. Max Scherzer has pitched a lot better in his last seven starts but still shows inconsistency with his command at times and may not be the guy you want to rely on to get a big win. Drew Smyly has pitched well at the start of the season but has not been that consistent and has had injury problems. Going on the DL for the second time this past year.
Bad defense: It has not been a major problem this season, but there has been a few games this year that the Tigers terrible defense has cost them games and opened the flood gates for big innings. Their offense maybe not be good enough to cover up for some of the routine blunders they make in the field.
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