Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/19/14
The Detroit Tigers just lost 4 out of 5 games, albeit by a total of just 5 runs. It’s funny how a stretch like this can bring out the ‘Jhonny Peralta has no range’ haters, the ‘Papa Grande has no arsenal’ realists, and the ‘I’m telling you, the Tigers just don’t have what it takes’ buffoons. Avisail Garcia is back The Tigers are still a solid 20-15, tied for 1st place, and should stay in prime position all season long to capture the AL Central yet again. The season is just more than 1/5th complete so despite my complete lack of worry, it’s time to take a look at the current state of the Tigers. Austin Jackson hits the 15-day DL today with hamstring issues. He has slumped badly of late and hopefully will come off of the DL in good shape and hitting well. He is the ignition to the Tigers’ offense and can’t stay away long. In his absence, the Tigers have called up Avisail Garcia, and I for one am excited to see him get regular at-bats. During his rehab assignment from a heel issue at high-A Lakeland and his work at AAA Toledo, he has hit a combined .426 with a double, two triples, and two homers in 66 at-bats. This guy has all of the tools. Jose Valverde is the same guy we saw last year. He throws fastballs on nearly every single pitch, and his velocity that was reported to be 95-96 during his pre call-up stint in Florida, has translated to 92-93 in Detroit. It is still straight and uninspiring. My hunch is that he will be good enough to aid the Tigers’ quest for another playoff appearance but he just isn’t the guy this club needs come cold, and very important, October baseball games. While Andy Dirks has heated up at the plate he has officially left Victor Martinez and Alex Avila in his wake. Dirks has three homers now and has pumped his average up to .239 with his recent hot streak. VMart sits at .212 and Avila .198. Martinez looked lost against Cleveland and Avila continues to irritate. The difference is that Martinez’s track record speaks volumes about his ability to get it going. Sadly, this may just be who the real Alex Avila is. Consider that in his three full seasons of big league action Avila has hit .228, .295, and .243. This year he’s at .198. Can anyone find the outlier? Let’s stop with the expectations here. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder have already combined for 73 RBI’s. Their on-base %’s are .452 and .417 respectively. Nasty stuff. Ramon Santiago has 26 at-bats so far this year and has four hits and zero RBI’s to show for it. Talk about a complete waste of a roster spot. I actually like Detroit’s bullpen right now, with the exception of the big fella who only has one pitch. Jose Ortega adds versatility and depth. Drew Smyly (1.93 ERA) and Joaquin Benoit (1.59) have been tremendous. The K’s/9 from the bullpen members are insane. Ortega (12.46), Benoit (11.65), Smyly (9.26), Darin Down (11.21), Al Alburquerque (16.07) and Phil Coke (9.31). Jose Valverde is bringing up the rear at 7.50. Detroit’s starters have a collective ERA of 3.45, which ranks 3rd in the AL. There is literally nothing to worry about here. Yes, it stings to lose back-to-back home games to the Tribe by one run apiece and 4 of the last 5 overall, but the end goal is well within reach for this team. Try to enjoy the ride. To receive an email each time a new Tigers article is published, fill out the Email Notification Form [Follow me on Twitter @isportsJoe]
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