Last season is beginning to feel more and more like a distant memory. It was around this time last season that the Tigers began their swan dive that ended with them finishing in last place. What a difference a year makes. Here we are in the second half of August and the Tigers have made meaningful changes to their roster that bolster what is already a first place club.
Gone from last season are Gary Sheffield, Kenny Rogers and Todd Jones. New to the club are glue guys like Adam Everett and Geralod Laird. Add to that the midseason additions of Aubrey Huff and Jarrod Washburn and you have a brand new team.
Huff made his Tigers debut last night as the designated hitter. Huff hit fifth and and went 1-4 with a single. Most importantly though, he provides some protection for Miguel Cabrera in the middle of the lineup. Cabrera has had a monster season, but just imagine who big his numbers would be if he was surrounded by guys a bit better than Clete Thomas, Ryan Raburn, and Magglio Ordonez. Yikes.
Washburn struggled in his first two starts with the Tigers, but bounced back in his last start as he threw 8 scoreless innings against the Kansas City Royals. With these new pieces coming into their own, the Tigers have to be increasing their odds of walking away with the AL Central.
The Tigers currently hold a three game lead in the AL Central over the Chicago White Sox, however, they have a four game lead in the loss column. There are 44 games to go and 23 of them will be played at Comerica Park where the Tigers are 39-19, easily the best home record in the AL Central and the third best in all of baseball.
- Miguel Cabrera is hitting .377 since July 28th and has nine hits in his last 14 at-bats (spanning 3 games).
- Placido Polanco is starting to hit like Placido Polanco. Over his last 18 games, Polanco is hitting .329 and that has to help guys like Cabrera.
- Carlos Guillen has been an on-base machine over his last 12 games with an OBP of .412.
- In case you didn’t know, Alex Avila is hitting .450 with 3 HR in 20 AB. Gerald Laird has one more homer than the 22-year-old Avila.
- While he hasn’t been as lights out as he was earlier, Edwin Jackson has not allowed more than 4 earned runs in a start since May 4th.
- Rick Porcello has an ERA of 2.21 over his last 20.1 innings. Opponents are hitting only .183 against the rookie.
- Justin Verlander is almost always hot. He has an ERA of 2.60 over his last seven starts and has 53 Ks in 52 innings of work.
- Brandon Lyon has an ERA of 0.77 since the calendar turned to June. Like it or not, the guy is due a huge raise next season.
- Gerald Laird is hitting only .164 since July 19th and has not homered since July 3rd. Good thing Alex Avila can hit.
- Brandon Inge has 3 hits in his last 28 at-bats. Good thing Aubrey Huff can play a little bit of third base.
- Curtis Granderson is hitting only .205 in his last 10 games and has an on-base percentage below .300. Not what you want from a your leadoff hitter.
- Since July 31st, Marcus Thames is hitting only .107 with 14 strikeouts in 41 at-bats.
- Armando Galarraga has an ERA of 6.75 over his last 4 starts.
- Zach Miner has a 7.15 ERA in August. He’s not fooling anyone as opposing batters are hitting over .350 against him.
- Bobby Seay has an ERA of 5.59 over his last 10 appearances.
The Tigers have two more games this week against the Mariners before heading out west to take on the Oakland Athletics and the Angels. Following that series with the Angels the Tigers will take on the Tampa Bay Rays in Detroit, so they are entering a bit of a tough patch.