By: Kurt Snyder
I spend a lot of time during summer weekends listening to Tiger games on the radio. It’s normally because I can’t waste a nice day sitting inside when there is yard work to be done or pool time to enjoy.
So as you can gather, I have become quite acquainted with the unique broadcasting abilities of Jim Price and Dan Dickerson.
On Sunday, they were generally puzzled by how a team so improved defensively, so potent offensively (even without Cabrera) could be hovering around the .500 mark and slowly slipping further and further behind in the division.
And while listening to them I wondered why they were so puzzled. I was reminded of the phrase that Jim Leyland would use after either a big win or a tough loss. And it was normally used when a member of the press would ask if this particular win or loss would influence the next day’s game. Jim would always downplay the circumstance saying, you are only as good as the next game’s starting pitcher.
So think back if you can stomach it, to Friday evening, as the Tigers, leading 6-1 in the ninth, somehow walked off the field with their heads down.
The Tigers were staggered by that loss. Brad Ausmus was shaken afterwards, at a time when you need your leader to be strong; when you need him to inspire.
The Tigers were already in a tough position for the next two games with Alfredo Simon, who has been awful for weeks, followed by a return of Shane Greene from Toledo, ready or not, both heading to the mound following Friday’s debacle.
Who thought the Tigers would win either game? Who thought they could find any resolve, having wasted a strong start from JV?
The days of stellar starting pitching from 1-5 are gone. The Tigers gambled with their rotation this year and thus far, have lost, big time. They have one, let me repeat, one pitcher, who has a really good chance of putting a W on the board for the Tigers. David Price is it.
Sanchez has just started to return to form but wounded this team for long stretches early in the season. Verlander, for the most part, is still in spring training and we can only pray his start the other night is a sign of great things, but it’s one start, so we can’t draw any real conclusions yet and proclaim him”back.”
But Simon has been awful and Greene didn’t look like he was ready to come back from Toledo. So knowing all of this without even discussing anything bullpen related, how can a team expect to be anything but .500?
We deserve this. Our starting pitching (outside of Price) has never allowed this team to get on any kind of roll. The rotation has offset all the good we have seen; the defense, the outstanding hitting from JD, Cespedes and of course, Miggy, prior to his injury. All the good has been completely torn apart and rendered useless by unreliable pitching. The results? 44-44.
If you can’t pitch, you can’t win. You can overcome substandard pitching for a while with good hitting. You can even bail out your pitcher with good defense, and the defense this year has been nothing short of great.
But if you want to win on a consistent basis, the pitching has to be exactly that, consistent. If it’s not, you will spend long stretches spinning your wheels, winning a few and losing a few. The result? 44-44.
The Tigers are continually running into that bad start. It’s like Russian Roulette; the bullet is just around the corner. You will only win for so long.
So the team walks a fine line. And there can be few missteps in the second half in order to get back in it, if they choose to go for it. A lot will have to turnaround. But I won’t bet a dime on a big turnaround from a team led by Brad Ausmus.