By: Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder
Houston came to Detroit this past week with one of the best records in baseball, certainly an unexpected occurrence when you previewed the schedule before the season.
After splitting the series, the Tigers headed to Oakland to face a team going in the opposite direction. So as the Tigers have been spinning their wheels of late, you could easily predict how they would fair.
But what did we notice most? What stood out? Guess you just have to read to find out.
If another sports writer ever again mentions that the Tigers are an ageing team, I just might implode. Quite the opposite is true and was never more evident than this past week when the Tigers fielded a team where half the team was either farm or fresh (rookies).
The infield is particularly susceptible with 2 veterans and both Iggy and Castellanos only in their second full years. Then you’ve got Romine with a handful of years of part-time bench experience and rookies in Perez, McCann and Machado. This week we saw a couple of games with 4 rookies in the starting lineup.
The bigger issue is how this lack of depth and inexperience impacts the ability of the manager to field a strong team on a daily basis. There is almost no wiggle room for a player to have a day off or to cover in case of injury. We saw how the team struggled when Iggy hurt his knee. Replacing Iggy and Kinsler with Machado and Perez should qualify for jail time.
But players also need to have a day off so they can recharge. Kinsler played every game but one last year and the daily grind affected his bat. We see it happening again this year.
And then there’s Miggy. Give him a day off and who has experience playing first base? And where’s Don Kelly when you need him?
I don’t know, what do you make of this team? Against Houston, 2 steps forward, 2 steps back. I know, a series split against a good team is not the end of the world, but we win the series more than likely without the continued implosion of Anibal Sanchez. His poor pitching is the most disturbing part of the team right now.
Some may disagree and focus on the poor offensive effort, which reared its ugly head again in Oakland. But I think it will come, there is too much talent on this team and we can’t discount the absence of VMart from the middle of this lineup. Luckily for us, the A’s are no longer any good and couldn’t score runs themselves, allowing the Tigers to take the series.
But if the Tigers are going to be a playoff team, Sanchez will be one of several who must lead them. The team has been challenged enough trying to score runs consistently without Victor protecting Cabrera and we continue to hold our breath waiting for the return of a healthy and ready to contribute JV.
But we won’t get anywhere if we offset the return of key pieces with continued poor performances from guys like Sanchez. Anibal has to find it. If this continues, he may have to take a page out of Max Scherzer’s book from a few years ago and work out some kinks in Toledo. We can’t afford for this to continue.
But we couldn’t score a lick in Oakland and actually won a game without a starting pitcher, so it ain’t all bad. All the W’s look the same in the standings, right?