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.


    • So what? Porcello’s been lousy in Boston and Cespedes has been pretty darn good for Detroit. That trade isn’t what’s hurt the team.


      • Randall – I think Doug’s point was how far the starting rotation has fallen since the days when you had the luxury of having Rick Porcello as your 5th starter. Thanks for reading, Kurt.


  1. Great piece Kurt. Your article covered most every component of the Tiger’s tragic condition. You led off by saying you can’t waste a day watching TV. Many of us now feel that we can’t waste our time watching the Tigers – which is too bad. Who needs the angst of watching a game that is so totally mismanaged.


    • Ray, we’d love to be able to publish entire comments. But there are space and format restrictions as stated just above the comment box. But we publish daily so there’s always another opportunity to share a thought that couldn’t make it into a previous post. Thanks for reading – and for posting!


    • Ray – baseball is in my blood, I have to know what’s going on when the Tigers are playing, and I roll with the good as well as the bad. I am actually looking forward to what comes next as they haven’t been in trouble like this in quite some time. Thanks for reading, Kurt.


      • The Tigers are in my blood too Kurt. Unfortunately, after faithfully following them for more than 50 years, I no longer look forward to watching them play. The team’s gross mismanagement by Brad Ausmus has forced my hand. My time is too valuable to be tied to watching the inevitable bungles by this poor excuse for a team leader.


  2. Kurt: once again – right on! Over the past few years, the front office’s moves have left the Tigers in a position of weakness and vulnerability. DD has made some monumental mistakes that will take a couple of seasons to overcome. Fans should be ready for mediocrity for awhile – unless Mr. I sees the light and forces some big moves!!


  3. Wojo finally wrote a good piece today. Couple it with yours Kurt and the reader has a treat. But what you included at the end ( bravo) dumping Ausus is the deal grabber! DD can buy- sell- trade with the very best and HE WILL…..This “crap” is not good medicine for Mr I who does not have the option to jump in the pool.


    • Jerry – yes, I noticed Wojo’s article was quite similar. I don’t believe it will matter much if we choose the “buy” route again this season, even if it’s enough to get a wild card spot. We chose the wrong manager, I only wish I had logged all the mistakes he has made that cost us games. Couple the managerial mistakes with the poor pitching and it’s actually quite amazing we have played .500 ball.

      Thanks, Kurt


  4. DD has re-built Tigs on the fly. 10 of 13 position players weren’t on team 2 yrs ago today yet they’re #1 in A.L. in BA/OBA, 2nd in slug/OPS and 3rd runs/SB and their best defensive team last 5 yrs. Have 4 youngsters signed for few yrs and for cheap. 2 them are stars (JD/Iglesias) and 2 legit (McCann/Gose).


    • Oscar – correct on all counts, but pitching and defense wins. They have the defense, but the pitching has fallen off. Until they get it back, no championships will be decided in Detroit. Thanks, Kurt.


  5. I would agree that DD has made mistakes but please consider that he is working with ownership & has to do their bidding. I don’t believe for one minute that the Fister deal was all DD. It’s a business & at that time it seems to me they were trying to cut back spending; since then it is kind of what has been the theme for them.


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