If the Tigers hope to be playing baseball when it’s October, there are five players they need to step up, not only in September, but in the playoffs if they make it.
Doug Fister: Fister has been nothing short of outstanding in the second half. But one thing he has not been able to do is stay healthy. Every time he has a bad start, it seems like it always follows up with something about Fister being hurt. The Tigers need Fister to stay healthy. Not only for September, but a pontential playoff push. With Max Scherzer pitching as good as anyone, with a healthy Fister on the mound, the Tigers have a lethal one through three.
Alex Avila: Last year Avila won a Sliver Slugger, was an All Star, and emerged as one of the best offensive catchers in the American League. This year, Avila has not even come close to the numbers he put up last year. The Tigers need his bat to be remotely close to what it was last year. With Avila hitting, it strengthens the bottom half the Tigers batting order, and makes it to where there is not an easy out in the line up.
Jose Valverde: Everyone knew that 49 straight saves (51 straight if you include the playoffs), was not going to happen again. But, the Tigers were not expecting a roller coaster ride every time he takes the mound. This year Valverde has blown four saves, and although his walks per-nine innings have gone down this year, his strike outs per-nine has fallen as well. Meaning: Valverde isn’t missing many bats and is always pitching into trouble. Winning games in September and October is the most important thing in baseball during a pennant chase. If the Tigers hope to do anything, they cannot worry about the game being blown at the very end.
Delmon Young: Young has fit the build of stepping up in September. So far Young is hitting over .400 in the start of the month. There is one question: Can he sustain this pace? Now, Young will cool down some, but if he continues to hit like the way he has over his last nine games, the middle of the Tigers’ order looks extremely dangerous to opposing pitchers.
Anibal Sanchez: When the Tigers traded away top prospect Jacob Turner, along with Rob Brantly, and Brian Flynn, they were hoping for good things from Sanchez. It’s been a bit of a rocky start for Sanchez in a Tigers uniform, but he has pulled it together recently. Putting together three straight quality starts. The Tigers need Sanchez to continue to pitch well not only down the stretch, but for hopefully a playoff push.
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