Old English Report: 87 Wins

Old+English+Report%3A+87+Wins

Longtime Detroit Tigers reporter Lynn Henning of the Detroit News joined The Pact this week to talk a little baseball. There, he made the claim, the same claim he made in the preseason, that the Tigers are an 87-win team.

The Tigers were able to obtain their 63rd win against the Texas Rangers Sunday. In order to reach 87 wins, they would have to finish 24-21 to end the season, which isn’t really far off from what they have been doing all season. The Old English roller coaster ride has been well in tact all season as this team loves to win a few and then go ahead and lose a couple more, and this week was no exception. Coming off a hot streak of winning 10 of 12 over the course of four series, Detroit went ahead and lost four games in a row. Then, took the final two in the Rangers series.

If the Tigers truly are an 87 win team, this would possibly keep them out of the postseason for the second year in a row after winning the AL Central four years straight.  

Overall Record: 63-54

Games out of First: 5

Games out of Wild Card: 1.5

This Week’s Record: 2-4

Pitching Has the Upper Hand

Henning mentioned how good pitching is a better centerpiece of a team over solid hitting, hence the Cleveland Indians are in first and the Tigers are in second. He also mentioned how when you run into hot pitching, it is going to have the upperhand even over a top tier Detroit offense. That is what happened in the series against the Seattle Mariners.

Former Detroit manager, Jim Leyland, always said “it’s not who you play, it’s when you play them.” Although Detroit was playing some of its best baseball when they headed out west, there were signs of slowing down in the loss to the New York Mets. The Mariners have flipped on the switch since the all star break where they were a .500 team and faced Detroit with a record four games over that mark. They were able to slowly claw themselves back into the playoff picture after many were writing them off.

The Tigers were manhandled by Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez in two of their three losses only scoring one run between the two games. Even when Wade LeBlanc pitched, who recently made his return to the majors for the first time since 2014, the Tigers still did not pounce on a golden opportunity to steal a win on the road.

It’s not like the Tigers were out pitched either. The trio of Michael Fulmer, Daniel Norris and Justin Verlander all had great starts that were erased by lackluster offense and less than desireable bullpen appearances (two from Justin Wilson).

Henning told The Pact, winning those pitching duels between the three and four starters are what can make any team a playoff team, and the Tigers did not execute in that series.

Crazy Stats of the Day

Although Detroit suffered a loss in extra innings in Tuesday’s contest, they are still 4-3 in extra innings. But what I’m really going to point to is the fact the Tigers are 20-13 in games decided by one run. A win percentage you would never expect from the team known for its cursed bullpen.

The Plague

Nick Castellanos, Jose Iglesias, Cameron Maybin, Mike Pelfrey and Jordan Zimmermann have all found themselves on the disabled list.

Henning said the Tigers were really feeling the repercussions of not having Castellanos in the lineup during the Mariners series whose 18 HR, 58 RBI, .286 BA and .831 OPS have not only lifted him to have his breakout season at only 24, but has been a major producer for this offense all season. This lineup really hits a drop off without the former top prospect in the middle of the order. Luckily, JD Martinez came back right as he went down. Though, that still leaves Justin Upton, who looks lost at the plate, with more responsibility.

Maybin, although still lacking the number of at bats to make him a league leader, has only hit over .300 since he joined the Tigers in May. Maybin went back on to the DL hitting .325 with a .394 OBP. Nothing will be able to replace his presence in the two hole and speed on the base paths.

Even Iglesias, only hitting .249, offers a far superior glove and slightly better bat than the three-way platoon of Mike Aviles, Andrew Romine and recently called up Dixon Machado.

Luckily with a few quality starts from Anibal Sanchez and Matt Boyd, Zimmermann’s presence isn’t missed as much as the three hitters. But even then, Zim is necessary for a Detroit September run into the postseason.

Henning believes any shot this team did have at making the playoffs and getting over the illusive 87 win mark has been shattered by these injuries.

Depth

Although it is less than ideal to have your desired starters go down, the likes of Casey McGehee and Tyler Collins are looking out to be reliable big league players.

McGehee is no stranger to the big leagues and has made a name for himself as a career backup and is used to bouncing between Triple A and the majors. But, he also does have a few seasons as a fulltime starter to his name (2010, 2011, 2014). He went 8-for-26 this week, including a four hit game against the Rangers. He’s no Castellanos, but having this kind of depth in your system speaks greatly of the front office signing him.

Quite the tale with Collins. From being booed profusely after losing a fly ball in the lights leading to an unkind gesture, to being the go-to fill in outfielder. Although not his best week, going 4-for-20 at the plate, he doesn’t seem like an automatic out at the plate anymore. I think going back down to the minors cleared his head. Plus the guy has a cannon.

Young Stunnaz

Holy Jumpin’!

Matt Boyd helped throw a shutout going seven innings in a tight ball game on Saturday against the Rangers. (Side note: The Tigers left 13 runners on base that game, unacceptable). Boyd out-dueled Cy Young candidate and pitching great, Cole Hamels.

Then on Sunday, Michael Fulmer pitched a complete game shutout which, in my opinion, sealed his rookie of the year trophy.

Let it be known that this was also against one of the most feared offenses in the game right now. The Rangers rank sixth among MLB teams in batting average and seventh among MLB teams in runs. They only got stronger on offense too, with the additions of Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy at the trade deadline. On top of that, the Rangers front office mentioned after the deadline pitching was too expensive, so they decided they are just going to mash their way to the World Series. So for a 25 and 23-year-old with limited major league experience to go and shut down the top team in the American League with a high caliber offense is immense for the Tigers.

CarGo is a NoGo

According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck as well as Henning, the Tigers do not plan to seek out any options before the August 31st waiver deadline. The team is trying to get younger and more affordable, so going out and making a big move before September may not be in the game plan.

Carlos Gomez, who was recently DFA’d by the Houston Astros, has been tied to the Tigers with all their outfield injuries. However, he is not seen as an upgrade to what they currently have going in the outfield.

This Week’s Game’s for the Week of August 15 (all times EST)

Monday 7:00 p.m. vs. Kansas City Royals on ESPN

Tuesday 7:10 p.m. vs. Kansas City Royals

Wednesday 7:10 p.m. vs. Kansas City Royals

Thursday 1:10 p.m. vs. Boston Red Sox

Friday 7:00 p.m. vs. Boston Red Sox

Saturday 7:10 p.m. vs. Boston Red Sox

Sunday 1:10 p.m. vs. Boston Red Sox on TBS