It's May 6th, and the Tigers are 19-11 and in first place in the AL Central. Not too shabby, eh?
With their big bats booming, the Tigers are definitely an exciting team to watch these days. I chalk up the Tigers streak of success to five things:
1) Miguel Cabrera -- both his bat AND his glove have been MVP-worthy!
2) Torii Hunter -- 3rd in
3) Jhonny Peralta -- his best spring ever at the plate; he's really stepped up his play.
4) Situational hitting -- when we get it, we win and win big.
5) Weak opponents .....
Hey there's no doubt that the Tigers are kicking some MLB carcass right now. They're a half-game up on the Kansas City Royals. They've won 9 of their last 10 games. They scored 27 runs as they swept a four-game series against the Astros ... the Astros ... Yeah. THE worst team in MLB, which leads me to this ...
Good hitting and a weak opponent can create wins and excitement and, as a result, cover up a ton of problems. Even in the midst of the Tigers' spring success, there are five things that stand out to me that could be troublesome for the Tigers going forward:
1) Bullpen troubles -- lots of injuries and giving up runs; not good in a tight game.
2) Lack of situational hitting against worthy opponents -- doubt me? Look up the stats.
3) Victor Martinez -- slow start; hitting .220; WAR (wins above replacement) of -0.9
4) Alex Avila -- hitting an anemic .193; WAR of -0.1; only at league avg throwing out steals.
5) JV's pitch economy .....
Pitch economy has always been JV's achilles heel. On Sunday, he flirted yet again with a no-hitter. But as he entered the 7th inning, JV was already over 100 pitches. Jim Leyland indicated he likely would NOT have let JV complete the no-hitter because of the pitch count. JV's WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) is up over last year and he's on pace to throw a but more walks this year. His accuracy is off. His pitch speeds are down. While it's not problematic right now, a lack of offense and pitching against teams that actually can hit the ball (as opposed to the Astros) could expose JV's weakness. But for now he's winning and his WAR is the second-highest among all MLB pitchers. I'll take that all day long.
Don't get me wrong -- I am not a hater. I love my Tigers, and always will. I'm not looking for only the bad in things. Quite the opposite.
If I can leave you with anything it is this -- enjoy these times. Enjoy it when our Tigers are on a roll like this. As baseball fans -- as Tigers fans -- we know these times don't always last. There will be bad streaks, so take some time and smile and enjoy this good streak. Enjoy watching Miggy and Torii and even Don Kelly ... and let's all hope that come October, we will see our hot streaking Tigers in the cold
From Sunday's game against Houston:
It's official -- Papa Grande is back! The Detroit Tigers announced late Tuesday that they've signed relief pitcher Jose Valverde to a one-year contract. Jim Leyland told the press that Valverde WILL be their closer.
This all started Tuesday afternoon when Craig Custance from ESPN The Magazine tweeted that, "Jose Valverde on my flight to Detroit. Looks like he's back."
CBS Sports writer Jon Heyman tweeted not long after that the Tigers were "planning to activate valverde soon. Should join big league team w/i days."
While speculation was rampant that Valverde would be going to Toledo first, Valverde told Custance that he expected to sign a one-year deal and was NOT going to Toledo. Once Custance tweeted those details, it was a matter of minutes before the Tigers announced they had agreed to the one-year deal with Valverde.
Valverde was on a tryout with the Tigers. The team had until May 8 to decide whether to keep him or release him.
The Detroit News reported on Tuesday morning that Papa Grande struck out the side in his lone inning of work in
Valverde, the much maligned reliever, who failed many times in the postseason last season, will join the team for tonight's game.
In other moves yesterday, the Tigers placed Octavio Dotel on the DL and brought up reliever Bruce Rondon.
Listen to your Detroit Tigers as they host the Atlanta Braves on Sunday Night Baseball, this Sunday on ESPN 96.1; broadcast time is 7:00pm.
In the bottom of the 14th, with the tying run approaching, Tigers catcher Brayan Pena hangs on to the ball for the final out to seal the 2-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night (4/17).
Don. Freaking. Kelly.
Check it out as Kelly steals a home run from the Toronto Blue Jays during Tuesday's 7-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Comerica Park.