Old English Report: The Detroit Mud Hens

Old+English+Report%3A+The+Detroit+Mud+Hens

If you were told back in April that the Tigers would be missing four starters and an outfielder busted, you would likely assume that general manager Al Avila stuck on Dave Dombrowski’s track and continued to trade players for young talent and that the Cameron Maybin signing faltered.

However, that is not the case.

This past week proved how much this team is being affected by health and the lack of production from Justin Upton. Tuesday’s lineup is very representative of how Triple A-esque the Tigers’ lineup has looked all week:

Ian Kinsler, 2B

Casey McGehee, 3B

Victor Martinez, DH

J.D. Martinez, RF

Justin Upton, LF

James McCann, C

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 1B

Dixon Machado, SS

Tyler Collins, CF

Picture Alex Presley in left field and you’re looking at a lineup that may give the 2003 Tigers a run for their money. The number of injuries and poor offense are what led the Tigers to have another heartbreaking week.

Overall Record: 65-59

Games out of First: 7

Games out of Wild Card: 2.5

This Week’s Record: 2-5

Injury Report

Despite still feeling some soreness, Cameron Maybin returned to the Motor City lineup in Sunday’s win against the Boston Red Sox.

Jose Iglesias is expected to make a rehab start in Toledo on Monday. The injury is less serious than anticipated and Iglesias is expected to be back in Detroit by Friday. Interesting to see that he’s already expected to be back, considering the Tigers went out to acquire Erick Aybar from the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday. This made it seem like Iglesias was going to be out for a while, and the Tigers would have been left with a void, so they went out and signed Aybar to fill that void.

Nick Castellanos is expected to be out until mid-September, a huge blow to this offense. Castellanos can no longer be apart of any playoff push except for some last key series. The Tigers need to get on a roll before then. With Upton having a nice game with two three-run homers on Sunday, we are still left wondering if he can be that middle of the order bat. The tale of these tremendous Upton seasons are seeming more like a myth every day. If he is truly able to get rolling, and not just tease fans again, it would really help cushion the blow of not having Castellanos in a late season playoff push.

Continuing from statements earlier, if I told you the Tigers would be third in ERA after the All-Star break but still only have an 18-16 record in that same period, you would laugh. That wouldn’t compute. Top offense and top pitching? Well, of course, hitting has hit a rough patch.

But going off that, it displays Jordan Zimmermann’s loss hasn’t been terribly detrimental. The team is still pitching very well,  in part because of the success of young arms like Michael Fulmer, Matt Boyd, and Daniel Norris. Zimmermann threw a simulated game Sunday, and the coaching staff is pleased with his progress. I expect Zimmermann to come back fired up in order to make up for what he calls the “most frustrating year of his career.”

Daniel Norris Lacks Pitch Control

All the talk has been focused on a Fulmer innings limit, but look a little closer and Norris seems to have a much tighter leash. He has not exceeded 5 1/3 innings this season and has thrown anywhere from 79 to 100 pitches, with 85 being the median.

Some of this is due to long at-bats and that he does not have full control over his pitches. He doesn’t have that put away pitch and hasn’t taken the league by the reins despite his “top prospect” title. That’s not to diss him; not all guys pan out right way. But ultimately The coaching staff would like Norris to go deeper into games if the Tigers are truly contending.

Dad Strength

Victor Martinez is currently second in RBIs in the seventh inning or later, only one behind Albert Pujols.

Although I’ve questioned if what he brings to the offense is worth what he costs in terms of base running and lack of fielding ability, seeing this kind of production and clutch really does prove Tigers fans are witnessing one of the best pure hitters ever. He never takes an at-bat off, which is an underrated quality. His run-producing ability is imperative if the Tigers have to keep throwing minor league lineups on the field.

Juuuuuuust a Bit Outside

Fans hate when injuries cost them the season of their beloved team, and I know it can be said that every team deals with them, so they are not an excuse. But the lack of offense because of poor replacements in the lineup is what cost Detroit another bad week.

The Tigers had only a combined seven runs in their five losses. Pitching kept Detroit in most of those contests. But as the old adage goes: you can’t win if you can’t score. And other than J.D. Martinez–who is on a tear, mashing .500 last week–every player hit .263 (Erick Aybar) or lower.

It’s a shame that when the pitching is finally doing well, the offense goes to shambles. With a couple of cupcake series (even though the Los Angeles Angels always seem to beat the Tigers no matter what kind of season they’re having), Detroit needs to battle these hardships for now and stay right in the wild card hunt.

Schedule for the Week of August 22 (all times EST)

Tuesday 8:10 p.m. at Minnesota Twins

Wednesday 8:10 p.m at Minnesota Twins

Thursday 1:10 p.m. at Minnesota Twins

Friday 7:10 p.m. vs. Los Angeles Angels

Saturday 7:10 p.m. vs. Los Angeles Angels

Sunday 1:10 p.m. vs. Los Angeles Angels