By: Kurt Snyder
As June heads into the final week of baseball, we have reduced the list of Tiger problems to one. It’s become clear. The Cleveland Indians.
My 20 Thoughts for June begin and end with the Indians.
1. As the Central Division has struggled with mediocrity, one team has finally separated itself from the others; and it’s not the Tigers. It’s the Indians. The problem is, it’s the one team in the Central Division the Tigers have failed to beat. And that’s no way to stay in the race.
2. Were you happy with Anibal Sanchez’s first start in his return to the starting rotation? I only needed to see the first inning to confirm the answer. As suspected, he’s back too soon.
3. When I attend games, there are 2 players I look forward to watching. Miggy, of course, is one. And Iggy is the other. So to my disappointment on Friday night, who’s playing shortstop? Andrew Romine. The Tigers should have called.
4. In the interest of reducing the innings for Michael Fulmer, the Tigers have decided to move to a 6-man rotation. Everyone ok with that?
5. The injury to JD Martinez turns out to have hurt the Tigers more defensively than offensively. Don’t be mistaken, the Tigers miss his bat. But Stephen Moya hasn’t dazzled in right field.
6. OK, I am ready to join in now. Nick Castellanos, who has had a breakout season with the bat, is also having a breakout season with the glove. He’s made plays at third this season I have never seen him make and he’s shown a stronger arm I didn’t think existed.
7. What in the heck has happened to Mark Lowe? When the season kicked off, he was one reason I felt good about the pen. I didn’t think he would be the #1 reason why I don’t.
8. The Tigers most important starter? Anibal Sanchez. It’s real simple where we are headed if he doesn’t start to produce; (a continued carryover). Status on that? It’s not good.
9. A word about Stephen Moya’s offensive ability. There is a lot to love here. The guy has unmistakable power for sure and is now showing he has a future in this league. But when the team gets healthy, who knows what happens with him. Because once again, he will be a man without a place at the table.
10. Jordan Zimmermann has gone from a pitcher we thought might be our ace to someone so inconsistent, we are not sure what we are going to get from one start to the next. He’s been unhittable one start followed by getting smacked around the next. Pretty puzzling.
11. Speaking of aces? It’s Justin Verlander. My, oh my, JV has been good. Whoever gave up on him should be ashamed of themselves.
12. The Indians have shown us that they have the best pitching in the division. It’s been painfully clear this weekend as the Tigers still try to figure out how to beat them. Well, we can start by actually pitching well ourselves.
13. Count me out as someone who is concerned about Miguel Cabrera and how much time he spends goofing around on the field.
14. Exchanging Fielder for Kinsler was one of the best trades in Tiger history. (A continued hold-over because it becomes more true every day)
15. Shane Greene has found his niche on this team, and none too soon as Mark Lowe has fallen off the face of the earth. My jaw dropped Saturday when I realized that his ERA is over 10.
16. Jim Price continually pounds the drum about the art of pitching. It’s one of his favorite topics. But the art of pitching will always include not throwing the ball over the plate. Yeah that’s right, sometimes strikes are mistake pitches, and Mark Lowe is suffering from that more than anything else.
17. How good must it have felt for Rajai Davis to finish off the Tigers Friday night with that incredible play in centerfield? That game was getting away from the Indians real fast, but in bizarre fashion, Davis stole the show.
18. A reader pointed out this weekend a desire to keep Moya around when JD comes back; mainly for the purpose of spelling the corner outfielders and Victor at DH. It’s something to think about. But would this scenario still give him the at-bats he needs?
19. Chet Lemon was honored during June. It was good to see Chester again. It definitely brought back a lot of good memories of Lemon roaming centerfield. But I haven’t forgotten. Still waiting for the ultimate honor for Tram and Lou. When are we hanging those numbers? What exactly are the Tigers waiting on?
20. One final (repeat) thought. And the most important. The Tigers need to start beating the Indians starting Sunday. Because the formula has become real simple. They are falling out of the race real fast because of their inability to beat the division leader…even once.