The Tigers Are Coming Around

Tigers Coming Around
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Detroit Tigers are coming around after a 2–9 start. We still don’t know if they are good, but they are playing better lately and find themselves in second place in the AL Central. In an underperforming division up for the taking, time will tell if they can come together as a complete team. It will be interesting to see if they can continue their winning ways enough to take the division.

Offense near the bottom

It’s not the offense as a whole that is leading this winning charge. They’re ranked in the bottom-five in baseball in batting average, hits, RBI, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. It’s hard to see how they have had any success. The team’s offense is also second to last in runs scored and its’ average with runners in scoring position is under .200, leaving an average of 3.86 runners in scoring position.

Some Offensive Success

The Detroit Tigers are coming are not all bad on the offense. Utility player Zach McKinstry is hitting .295 with 23 runs scored and ten stolen bases. Since coming to the Tigers in late March, he has come out of nowhere to lead this team in batting average. He has become so reliable that he’s now batting leadoff.

It also looks as though Riley Greene is starting to live up to his potential. He is hitting .293, and although he only has five home runs, his bat speed is coming around. He is showing more confidence at the plate. Sometimes when you are a top five prospect in all of baseball, the expectations can be a challenge. It appears that Greene has adjusted to that challenge and is letting his play both offensively and defensively show everyone he belongs in the major leagues.

The Tigers are finally getting some production from Javier Baez as well. Since starting the season 4-for-40 without one extra-base hit, Baez is hitting .347 with three home runs, seven doubles, and 19 runs scored. He has also cut down on his strikeouts.

Starting Pitching

The starting pitching has improved for the month of May. They might have found a legitimate No.1 starter in Eduardo Rodriguez. He has allowed just two runs in his last 34 2/3 innings while striking out 33 batters and lowering his ERA to 2.13. His fastball and changeup are producing more swings and misses than they were in his April starts.

His command has improved leading to his walks being down as well. Michael Lorenzen has come back from the IL, and started eight games, and provided some stability in the starting rotation. He has a 3.50 ERA and has pitched at least six innings in five of his last six starts.

Closer

Meanwhile, closer Alex Lange has developed into a lockdown closer, saving nine games. Lange has struck out 30 batters in 22 1/3 innings and has an ERA of 1.21. He collected saves on three consecutive days for the first time in his career. His curveball is among the top elite swing-and-miss pitches in baseball.

They Find Ways to Win

They are finding a way to win, having won 15 of their past 25 games. Although, the style of play and winning on the field is not top notch, they are still winning. Starting pitching is limiting teams to a fewer runs in May and they’re going deeper in the games. The offense has managed just enough to get the lead. The bullpen has also been holding on to those leads long enough to get Lange in the game to close it out. The rest of the defense helps by avoiding costly errors.

AL Central is Open

The Detroit Tigers are coming around, and the AL Central is open for them to take. Currently only the Minnesota Twins are playing over .500 baseball, but the Tigers are just two games behind.

Winning inspires togetherness and togetherness inspires more winning. If more players on offense like Spencer Torkelson and Akil Baddoo start to contribute, they can be a very good team. If they can get pitchers Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, and Spencer Turnbull back after the All-Star break, this team might be able to keep their hopes for a playoff spot going.

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James Marshall

James Marshall

Jim Marshall has lived in Phoenix, AZ for 50 years. He is an avid baseball fan, but enjoys all of Arizona's local sports teams, including Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals and Coyotes. In addition to the four major sports, he closely follows the Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Rattlers and Arizona State Sun Devils. Jim's passion for baseball continues beyond the field as he is an avid collector of baseball memorabilia. His favorite athlete of all time is Baseball Hall of Fame member Harmon Killebrew. In addition to watching, reading and talking about sports, he takes time to travel and appreciate the great state of Arizona with his lovely wife, Patti.

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