So ... have you been paying attention to the Tigers?
No, Tigers fans, I'm not talking to you. I know you see them. I'm just wondering how many others do, because they should be paying better attention. Many have written off the rest of the AL Central (yes, I said it was a done deal at the All-Star break and I'm accountable) and much ado was made about other AL teams like those Indians, the Rangers and more due to trade deadline activity. The Tigers didn't really do much in the way of trades.
They've just been doing the job with their on-field performance.
After an 11-5 victory over the White Sox on Tuesday night, the Tigers are now 58-48 and within three games of the Indians in the Central. They trail the Red Sox by only a half-game for the second Wild Card, but the AL is so bunched up that the Tigers are only 3 1/2 games from having the best record. How ridiculous does that sound?
Right now, no team is baseball is hotter. The Tigers have won seven straight, and this is coming off sweeps of fellow playoff-contending Red Sox and Astros.
The good news doesn't stop there, either. Jordan Zimmermann (9-4, 3.95) is set to come off the disabled list and rejoin the rotation on Thursday. The Tigers have won 10 of his 15 starts this season.
Big-time power threat J.D. Martinez has been out since June 16 and he's now set to return within the next few days as well. They already get on base and have great power and Martinez only makes them that much better.
The bullpen had actually been very good in the second half before coughing up some runs Tuesday night and Matt Boyd has a 2.21 ERA in his last four starts. Team him with Zimmermann, Justin Verlander (1.69 ERA in July, by the way) and Rookie of the Year front-runner Michael Fulmer and the rotation looks pretty sound.
The Indians are still very strong and have to be considered the favorite in the division, but they have actually gone 11-14 since their 14-game winning streak. By no means is this over, despite what some idiots like Matt Snyder may have said a few weeks ago.
Of course, there's the head-to-head matter. The Tigers are 1-11 against the Indians this season. If they hang around in this race, they will have seven more chances. There's a three-game series in Cleveland from Sept. 16-18 and then a four-gamer in Detroit during the final week (Sept. 26-29, so, sadly, not the final series) of the season.
Might those games be for the division lead? If things continue along this path, that'll be the case. It's certainly looking up in Detroit, even if many are busy paying attention to other AL powerhouses.
Please feel free to contact me with comments either on Twitter (@MattSnyderCBS) or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, allow me to remind you that if we disagree about something, one of us is either stupid or biased -- maybe both. It's probably not me, either.
|After a merry-go-round that included each of the six first-place teams at the top, we're back where we started. The Cubs' 5-15 stumble from late June to mid-July has been followed by a 13-6 stretch. Nine of those wins came against teams over .500 with wins over the likes of Chris Sale, Yu Darvish, Jose Fernandez and Steven Matz. As things stand, they've won six of their last seven. This wasn't a difficult choice.||2||66-80|
|I really loved the Mark Melancon deal. It almost makes up for the closer trade they made last season. Almost.||2||60-86|
|Taking two of three from the Orioles was pretty big, but this is shaping up to be a three-team dog fight to the end. My idiocy outlined in the intro above notwithstanding, I'm sticking with my preseason Blue Jays pick here.||2||82-64|
|Five straight losses last week, four of which came after the O's took the top spot in the Official Power Rankings. You know the drill. The curse lives!||3||46-99|
|After an extended stretch of bad baseball, the Rangers have now won seven of their last 10 games and added Jonathan Lucroy, Jeremy Jeffress and Carlos Beltran. That's one way to drastically improve one's stock.||5||54-91|
|The Andrew Miller acquisition was great, but the Jonathan Lucroy veto and Danny Salazar trip to the DL hurt.||4||71-73|
|Hey, Tigers fans, did you only look here instead of reading the intro due to our new format? Might wanna scroll up to that intro. I liked your guys a lot this week.||8||70-76|
|I absolutely love the Josh Reddick pickup. He's very helpful on offense, but defensively now anything that's right of the left fielder will be caught by either Joc Pederson (CF) or Reddick (RF). Outstanding defense out there.||2||94-53|
|The Red Sox are in a stretch where they play 22 of 28 games on the road and this includes a West Coast jaunt. In fact, before this trip began, they had played 59 home games and 40 road games. Weird imbalance, no? It will be interesting to see if this upcoming road-heavy schedule wears them down as the final two months progress.||2||83-65|
|The Giants are 4-12 since the All-Star break and just lost a Madison Bumgarner start to the Phillies. There's credit built up here for sure, but they are running out of it. Really, they'd be far lower if we could trust anyone below this spot at all. We just can't. Not even joking, I tried to find a way to justify something in the mid-teens. Surely this the precursor to a late-October World Series trophy hoist.||1||95-51|
|Just as the division was starting to look like it would belong to the Astros soon, they lost five of six while watching the Rangers get hot and win big at the deadline. Now the Astros are multiple games out of the Wild Card and dealing with some intense competition there from the Tigers and whatever two AL East teams don't take the division.||3||85-60|
|They've been playing through injuries to key players pretty much all season, but now Matt Carpenter and Aledmys Diaz are both on the DL and that seems pretty tough to overcome. If anyone can, this club can. They've been doing it for years. We'll see if that continues.||1||76-69|
|Andrew Cashner has a 2.28 ERA in his last four starts. In that span, he's struck out 25 compared to only three walks. With such a dearth of quality starting pitchers available in front of the deadline, this trade could be a major win for the Fish.||--||62-84|
|The Rockies are 3 1/2 games out of the second Wild Card. I think it's fair to say that's contending and this wasn't expected by many this season. They also lost Trevor Story to a season-ending injury. That's rough. Can they plow through this? Would make a fun Story. (Sorry, that was bad).||5||68-78|
|Count me in the camp that doesn't like the Jay Bruce addition. I get the desperation to improve driving guys in, but now the outfield defense is going to be a sieve whenever the Mets try to maximize offense in their order.||3||72-75|
|That loss on national (cable) TV to the Cubs had to sting, but if that had to happen in order to get Edwin Diaz national exposure and a closer role, so be it. He is a stud.||--||78-68|
|Getting swept by the Brewers amidst all the Lucroy drama in Milwaukee was a total gut punch to the Pirates' playoff chances, but they have the Braves, Reds and Padres for the next eight games. Perhaps a move up? I keep calling for it, so maybe it'll happen eventually.||--||54-92|
|Danny Duffy is morphing into an ace before our very eyes. His stuff in that near-no-hitter on Monday was as good as anyone's we've seen this season (OK, maybe other than Clayton Kershaw's).||2||66-80|
|General manager Brian Cashman had zero experience being in charge of such a heavy sell-off, and by all accounts he did an exceptional job.||5||82-64|
|Count me in the camp that thinks this team is begging for a rebuild. Maybe they didn't have to do it before the trade deadline but will instead deal Chris Sale and Jose Quintana when the free agent starting pitcher market is pathetic this coming offseason. They need to do something. This group is going nowhere.||2||83-63|
|Call them The Saboteurs. Remember last week when we discussed the Twins playing well since the beginning of July against contenders? They've now won the first two in a series against the Indians to keep it going.||5||64-83|
|I really want the Brewers to put Ryan Braun on revocable waivers (they will, as pretty much everyone is as a procedural thing) and for some contending team to claim him. It would be so fun to see if the Brewers just let him go to free themselves of the contract.||1||89-57|
|Albert Pujols hit his 20th homer of the season this past week. It's the 15th 20-HR season of his career. Only 10 players have done it more times: Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Frank Robinson, Willie Mays, A-Rod, Jim Thome, Eddie Murray, Reggie Jackson, Ted Williams and Babe Ruth.||2||72-74|
|Reports indicated that the Phillies were asking for very big packages in return for Jeremy Hellickson. He's a free agent after the season. I see nothing wrong with aiming high, but was this a missed opportunity to get something in return for a not-great player who might walk after the year?||--||73-72|
|Guess who ranks dead last in ERA among qualifying pitchers? Sonny Gray. That is astounding from the context of what we saw before this season.||3||79-67|
|Well look at that. The Reds are 11-5 since the All-Star break.||1||76-71|
|An interesting discussion point: Did the Rays hurt themselves down the road with the three-game sweep of the Yankees? It seemed to send the Yankees into full-on sell mode and it looks like that'll help the franchise in a few years, notably when the Rays would hope to be competing again.||1||90-56|
|Let's keep an eye on Alex Dickerson and his power. The 26-year-old outfielder has six homers and a .557 slugging percentage in only 88 at-bats. He also went to an awesome school. Just saying.||3||75-70|
|It's not happening next year in their new digs, but a Braves turnaround feels inevitable with how many assets they are accumulating.||1||76-68|
|Since June 24, every other MLB team has won at least 11 games. The D-Backs have won seven. So let's talk about having the best words. We could use stuff like awful, dismal, pathetic, pitiful (one of my faves, personally) or just plain bad. This franchise is in really bad shape. Top to bottom, man. Terrible. Abysmal. Atrocious. Sad!||1||47-99|