Originally written on The Detroit Sports Site  |  Last updated 4/15/13
A week after the Detroit Tigers’ offense started April a bit slow, things exploded in impressive fashion. Combined with some excellent starting pitching, two out of the three necessary elements for a special baseball team are rounding into shape early. One, however, is not. Again, the bullpen was shaky all week, even within a few victories. Relievers combined to blow a 6-1 lead in Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays and in the opener in Oakland, things fell apart in extra innings in a frustrating 4-3 loss. Both meltdowns were courtesy of the bullpen and largely Brayan Villarreal, who walked away the first game and served up the deciding home run in the second. The Tigers’ wonderful offensive start, which has seen the team blast out to lead the league in batting average (.307) and on base percentage (.367) while placing in the top ten in slugging percentage .429, seventh) and runs (68, fourth) has been a bit overshadowed by the constant adventures of the bullpen. The talking point this week is not the fact that Detroit scored over six runs four times and 10 or more twice, but how the bullpen looked awkward late in games yet again. As it stands today, only three members pitching out of Detroit’s bullpen have ERA’s below 4.00. Somewhat surprisingly, they are led by Darin Downs, then Joaquin Benoit and finally, Drew Smyly. Usually consistent ,ainstays like Phil Coke (8.10), Al Alburquerque (4.50), Octavio Dotel (4.50) and Villarreal (48.60) haven’t been impressive. Even Benoit, despite his respectable numbers, had an adventurous Saturday afternoon with walks galore and nearly turned a runaway into a close game. With a 7-5 record which could look better without three meltdowns, it’s clear the Tigers will need to keep up their big hitting and scoring ways to win. The team is 1-3 thus far in games decided by three runs or less, and that will be the stat to watch the rest of the season. Fortunately, as written about the offense last week, there’s time for things to round into shape. Don’t expect Villarreal and Coke’s ERA’s to remain as dramatically elevated all year, but it will be important for them and all the others to come back down to the 3.00 ERA neighborhood sooner rather than later. But how soon will these late inning reliever issues remedy themselves? That could prove to be the difference between the Tigers becoming an exceptional team and a good team. Offense, often times, becomes a fickle mistress over the course of 162 games. No matter the score, relievers will always get the ball late and have a chance to pitch Detroit to a win or keep them in a game. How they do will tell 2013′s story. While the Tigers’ lineup does have six players hitting well over .300, they also have four relievers with four walks or more on this young season. No matter how much the offense is bashing, that will still remain the bigger story and determinant of success or failure. Our Facebook talk proves that in feedback of the week, Despite a dominating, 10-1 win against the Toronto Blue Jays, one fan was still steaming about the 8-6 loss aided by the bullpen from the day before. When it was written that the best way to prevent relievers from becoming involved in outcome of the game was a multiple run outburst, Mike O’Neil responded: The pen has already (bleeped) away 3-4 games. That’s correct. Need I say more about the spotlight the bullpen will cast the rest of the year no matter what the hitters are doing? Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Prince Shembo’s girlfriend says he was jealous of dog

Bruce Arians: Talk of Daryl Washington a 'waste of breath'

Gerald McCoy keeps the Jameis Winston hype in check

Gronkowski family to appear on 'Family Feud'

WATCH: Lloyd McClendon has all-time meltdown

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Drew Bledsoe defends Tom Brady over Deflategate

Did Heat offer Dwyane Wade less than $10 million per season?

David Ortiz brushes aside talk of being 'washed up'

USA Women’s World Cup roster verdict: No excuse not to win

UCF had no idea UConn was creating a rivalry trophy

Cam Newton signs five-year, $103M extension with Panthers

Mariota tops Jameis Winston, Tom Brady in jersey sales

Adrian Peterson's return puts jolt into Vikings for 2015

Russell Wilson on future with Seahawks: 'We'll see what happens'

QB Blake Sims misses playing for Alabama

WATCH: Joc Pederson hits longest home run of the season

WATCH: Joey Gallo homers in first career game

Former Mississippi State cheerleader suing ESPN after hit by golf cart

Jackson says Bills plan to give McCoy 300-plus carries

McCoy not happy Perryman played dodgeball while injured

College football playoff schedule for 2015: New Year's Eve?

How the Chicago Blackhawks are thriving in salary cap era

Report: Klay Thompson cleared for Game 1 of NBA Finals

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

USA Women’s World Cup: No excuse not to win

Projecting rosters for the 2015 MLB All-Star Game

What Peterson's return means

The Bulls and the culture of fitting in

X-factors for Cavs and Warriors

Pujols: Angels not 'Mike Trout show'

Adrian Peterson returns to Vikings

Chicago Bulls agree to deal with Fred Hoiberg

NBA should have 'legacy contracts' for long-time players

Atlanta Hawks unveil new logo

UAB fans celebrate football reinstatement

Sanchez backs off dismissal of Tebow

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.