It’s looking more and more like they’ll be able to win the AL Central, as none of their remaining games are against their division foes. The Cleveland Indians would have to go on a 10-game tear, while the Tigers would have to have a rough finish in order for them to be passed in the standings.
The Tigers played Victor Martinez at catcher Thursday, with Miguel Cabrera taking over his usual spot as designated hitter. Martinez drove in a pair of key runs at the plate, and had a solid defensive game as well. The Tigers are making the right choice, because they need to get him some experience this season with the few games they have remaining so he is ready if he is asked to do it in the postseason.
Martinez should get one more chance to catch before the regular season concludes on Sept. 29. The Tigers head to Florida to take on the Miami Marlins for the final series of the regular season, so Martinez should get more reps there.
The Tigers are better, defensively, with Cabrera at designated hitter. He hasn’t been fully healthy for a while, and doesn’t have his usual range. They can play a more capable defender at third base and still allow Cabrera to hit, but it requires Martinez to catch. The Tigers need to do whatever they can to keep both Martinez and Cabrera on the field, as they have been two of the Tigers’ key offense players this season.
The Tigers might consider playing Jhonny Peralta at third base when he is eligible to return from his suspension. The team had an injury scare when Jose Iglesias was hit by a pitch late in the game Thursday, which is a sign that the Tigers could at least bring him in as a backup shortstop. Peralta would improve the defense at third base as well, and probably should be playing the position at this stage of his career anyway.
While Martinez has only made two other starts at catcher this season, prior to today’s, it makes sense to get him ready to do so. He’s batting .367 since the All-Star break, and they can’t afford to not have him in the lineup with the way he has been hitting.