There is always a fine line between taking a hitter out of a game to give them a day or two off and worrying about whether or not they will lose timing at the plate.
The Detroit Tigers are in this predicament with one of the best hitters in the game. Miguel Cabrera has been less than 100 percent for a while but hasn’t gone to the disabled list. He’s clearly showing pain on the field but is tough, persistent and wants to play. But the Tigers are starting to get to the point where they have to ask themselves if it is time to give him a rest.
The Tigers hold a 5.5-game lead over the Cleveland Indians and a seven-game lead over the Kansas City Royals. They have 17 games remaining. They’re certainly nowhere near their magic number for wins, but it is time to start considering giving Cabrera days off to make sure the get the most out of him down the stretch.
Just three of the Tigers’ remaining games are against the Royals, and the Tigers are done playing the Indians for the regular season. The Tigers are getting to the point where they can start to give players a break from the daily grind.
They also have to consider if it’s worth it to give Victor Martinez some time off as well. Martinez filled in at catcher while Alex Avila was on the disabled list and the Tigers had to like what they saw. If they want to use Martinez at catcher in the postseason, they better give him some rest before asking him to do so.
Martinez showed he could play the position but won’t be able to do it game in and game out. If the Tigers were to give him a little break, there is a much greater chance he could play a handful of games at the position should they make it to the postseason.
No lead ever seems big enough, but managing your players’ health is as important as managing them in the field. The Tigers would be wise to start giving guys a break when they can. It’s starting to look like they’re going to need them for extra games in the fall.