Each Monday, good or bad, we’ll look back at the biggest theme of the week that was for the Detroit Tigers.
Stranded runners. Strikeouts. Clutch offensive performances followed by goose eggs on the scoreboard. Hello Detroit, and welcome to yet another season of Tigers baseball.
Some of the offensive pitfalls of the latest week are nothing new. After all, we’ve been watching these scenarios play out for the past several years. Either the Tigers start the season hot and cool off, or they’ll start the season ice cold and take some time to get into a warmer groove with the bats.
Last week proved this year could be a little of both with regards to early offensive execution. After getting next to nothing three games into the 2013 season in Minnesota and looking bad in the process, Detroit came home and busted loose against the Yankees to the tune of 16 runs in two games. Then, predictably, the Tigers looked sleepy on Sunday, getting shut out without any offensive production in a 7-0 loss.
It’s frustrating, maddening, confounding and sometimes terrorizing. It’s also a far cry from last year, which saw the Tigers blast off to a 4-0 start while scoring 31 runs in four games. Detroit, however, quickly went through a dismal stretch in late April which saw the team drop seven out of eight games. Clutch hits and runs were at a premium over that stretch as well, and the Tigers had fallen back to the pack. By the beginning of May, the team which had looked like world beaters before was only a sparse 12-12.
If anything, you’d like to see the 2013 Tigers start the season exactly as they have, with breakout performances as well as struggles. As we’ve seen, you know the doldrums are coming at some point. You’d rather get them out of the way early and continue to figure things out along the way than look invincible out of the chute and go through a two month funk. We’ve seen the Tigers do that plenty of times as well.
After the first week of baseball, Detroit is exactly where teams would like to be. They’re 3-3, with plenty of good moments which lend hope for an exciting summer and a few early season head-scratching performances as well. At this point, neither should be cause for too much excitement or concern.
Our first fan feedback segment of the season “celebrates” the return of erratic Tigers’ closer Jose Valverde, who fans thought they had finally ditched in the offseason. Problem being, Detroit didn’t take enough active steps to replace him, and, in need of a contingency plan following early bullpen struggles, signed him to a minor league contract. As you’d expect, the move elicited some interesting feedback on Facebook.
David Cole: Send him to the Indians…
Chuck Hawley: Let’s hope he stays in the minors. My heart can’t take any more of his antics.
James Egan: I’d like to say it isn’t so but this closer by committee does not look like it will work. Maybe Jose has something left, worth finding out.
Sue Aaronson: Maybe Papa Grande will get his mojo back…he couldn’t be any worse than the collection of “closers” who gave up five runs in the eighth inning.
I’m with James and Sue, and to a certain extent, David. While I’d prefer Valverde not come back and someone else be the experiment (hello Brian Wilson), having an established closer to trot out for the ninth inning beats having nothing at all, especially after the performances we’ve seen in the last week. Counting on Darin Downs, Brayan Villarreal and Phil Coke to consistently motor through the late innings seems like a stretch. Perhaps Valverde has rediscovered something. If so, the Tigers could be in business. If not, they can simply cut him loose. Like Sue said, it can be no worse than what’s been happening in the bullpen lately.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax