Thursday, May 31, 2012

Week 8 Report: Still Sloppy but Winning Week

The Tigers continued to look like a sloppy team with no direction this week, but they did manage to go 4-3.  The week started with a three-game sweep of the Twins in Minnesota and ended with a lackluster 1-3 series at Fenway.  The Bengals have now dropped into third place five games behind the White Sox.

The story line has remained the same for much of the season.  The pitching has been pretty good with the Tigers near the top of  the American League in the fielding independent pitching statistics - K/BB, FIP, xFIP, SIERA.  Even the bullpen has settled in nicely as of late.  Unfortunately, they are 11th in the league in run prevention due to epically bad fielding. 

The offense has been a disappointment all year, but there have been some positive signs recently.  After struggling somewhat in the early part of the season, the two big boys - Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder - combined to bat .458 for the week.  Everything revolves around those two sluggers, so they'll need consistent production from them if they are going to turn it around.  Defensively, Fielder has been a disaster and really belongs at designated hitter.  Unfortunately they have a few hitters in that position and, of course, Victor Martinez will also be back eventually. 

Austin Jackson is still not back from his side injury, but they barely missed him this past week as speedy Quintin Berry injected some life into a dying team batting .333 with a .395 OBP and three stolen bases.  He will surely remain on the roster when Jackson returns and should get regular playing time as long as he keeps getting on base.  Look for him to steal at bats from Delmon Young versus right-handed starters.  I don't know if Berry has the arm to play right, but should be able to handle left field.  He has 82 lifetime games there in the minors.

The worst news  of the week was Doug Fister going back on the disabled list due to his side not yet being healed fully.  That is tough news given that rookie southpaw Drew Smyly has come back to earth posting a 6.53 ERA and allowing six homers in his last four starts.  The Tigers will definitely need a completely healthy Fister if they are going to make a strong run this summer.

Finally, the inevitable happened as badly slumping Ryan Raburn was demoted to Triple-A Toledo in an attempt to get his bat going.  Ramon Santiago and Danny Worth are now sharing the second base job which should help their defense.  I suspect Raburn will be back fairly quickly if he heats up in minor league action.   


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