Detroit Tigers: Why This Week Is so Important

PJ SapienzaContributor IIIApril 30, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 29: Prince Fielder #28 of the Detroit Tigers rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 29, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

. The Detroit Tigers entered this season with high hopes and big expectations.  After a good start to the season they have fallen back.  They now sit 11-11, tied with the Chicago White Sox and chasing the Cleveland Indians in the Central Division.

 

This team hoped to be battling with the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers for American League supremacy; instead they have only had two wins in seven games against them.

 

Now it is only the end of April.  Many teams and players have bounced make from a bad April start and likewise every season sees some player or team get off to a hot start only to fade as the season winds on. 

 

Still, the troubling 2-8 run over the last ten games does make one worry.  The calendar now turns to May and it is time for the real Tigers team to stand up.  Over the next six games they play the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox at home.  These are important games to win in order to get the team back on track.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 27:  Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 27, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

 

In the Royals, the Tigers have a team that they have already swept on the road.  Two of the three pitchers that they will face have an ERA over six.  Baseball is all about timing and confidence.  The Tigers should be able to regain both in this series which should carry over to the White Sox series.

 

They really should sweep the Royals, but at a minimum they should win two of the three games. That would help them entering the Chicago showdown.  The White Sox took two of three earlier against the Tigers and it is time for payback.

 

Each win against the White Sox will help separate them in the standings.  Right now the Tigers need to get on a winning streak in order to put some distance between them and the rest of the AL Central.  The Indians and White Sox are starting a series tonight, meaning that neither should extend themselves too far from the Tigers this week.

 

 Justin Verlander and Drew Smyly have been the only two starting pitchers the team can count on. Duane Below will make his first start of the season against Kansas City and the team needs a strong start. With Doug Fister on the DL and Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello playing some very inconsistent games, the team needs another starter to step up.  The pressure of the repeated short starts on the bullpen has not gone well. 

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 12: Brennan Boesch #26 of the Detroit Tigers singles to right field in the fifth inning scoring Andy Dirks #12 and Austin Jackson #14  during the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Comerica Park on April 12, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan.
Leon Halip/Getty Images

 

Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera have each turned around their cold bats over the last week and need to continue that streak this week.  They join Price Fielder as the only solid bats in the lineup right now.

 

The batting woes of Brennan Boesch, Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila have to be fixed this week.  At this point their slumps could turn into season-long downturns.  Peralta and Avila need to discover where they left their hitting strokes from last season.  Boesch must figure out how to hit right handers (.193 against RHP/ .294 against LHP).

 

This week will not make or break the team, but it could go along way in setting the tone for the rest of the season.  It is a new month and the team needs a strong May in order to establish themselves as a true title contender.

 

PJ Sapienza is a featured columnist covering the Detroit Red Wings as well as many other sports. You can follow him on Twitter.

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