Detroit Tigers: 5 Best-Case Scenarios
It is no secret that the Detroit Tigers are one of the hottest teams in baseball right now.
During this month of July, the Tigers are currently boasting a 15-6 record with a team batting average of .283. When it comes to pitching, Tigers' pitchers have combined for a 3.59 ERA and a .244 batting average against.
Detroit recently made a significant roster improvement when they acquired second baseman Omar Infante and starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez. Even though the Tigers had to part ways with top pitching prospect Jacob Turner and star catching prospect Rob Brantly, this will be a trade that pays immediate dividends.
While these are all great things to hear for Tigers fans, there is still a lot of season left to play.
Here are five best-case scenarios for the Detroit Tigers for the remainder of the 2012 season.
Jhonny Peralta, Brennan Boesch and Alex Avila Start Hitting
While there is no doubt that Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder can carry a lot of the weight of this Detroit team, no one can expect the duo to do so on a nightly basis.
Other players must step up and contribute when necessary.
Jhonny Peralta, Brennan Boesch and Alex Avila are three players who are slowly starting to find their stride, but it needs to happen sooner rather than later if the Tigers hope to hold off the White Sox in the AL Central.
Out of these three, the one player with the most pressure has to be Alex Avila. Even though he has been plagued with nagging injuries during the entire 2012 season, he is still going to be expected to produce at the plate.
Right now, he is not getting it done.
Over the last 28 days, Avila is only hitting .237.
When he has had the opportunity to knock in runners in scoring position, Avila is hitting only .232 with 20 strikeouts.
The Tigers may be on fire right now, but these three need to contribute on a continuous and dependable basis if Detroit wants to come out on top.
***Update: Alex Avila hit well during the Cleveland series, going 4-for-10 in three games.
Anibal Sanchez Must Impress
In an effort to shore up their rotation for the final regular season push, the Tigers went out and got Anibal Sanchez from the Marlins.
While he will not blow anybody away, he is a fantastic pitcher who will immediately help Detroit. Sanchez will be a critical piece to Detroit's division-clinching puzzle as the season progresses.
After posting a 3.94 ERA with Miami and getting little to no run support, Sanchez will have the added benefit of more offense each and every night he takes the mound.
Many Tiger fans will expect him to come out on Saturday in Toronto and dominate, but that may not be the case.
When Sanchez faced the Blue Jays earlier this season during inter-league play, he yielded six runs in only 3.1 innings of work. Also, he has an 0-3 record during inter-league play this season with a 5.96 ERA. He gave up a whopping 15 runs in 22.2 innings of work.
The Tigers will need a more improved Sanchez in order to secure the division title in the AL Central as this season's title race will prove to be much more competitive than last season's.
Omar Infante Provides Much More Production from Second Base
No one expects Oman Infante to come into Detroit and light the city on fire. All he will be expected to do is produce in the same fashion that he has recently with the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins.
However, he is struggling to find a rhythm with his new ball club.
Before Friday night's game in Toronto, Infante was only 1-or-10 while hitting out of the nine hole.
However, there is no doubt that he can produce at a high level as he was hitting .287 with his former team.
The Tigers desperately need to get more offensive production out of second base, and Infante needs to shake off some early demons in order for this lineup to become a more potent force in the weeks to come.
Andy Dirks Returns Quickly
While Dirks' return will raise questions as to which outfielder will depart when he arrives, he will be welcomed back with open arms to this Detroit team.
Dirks was on fire before his injury, hitting .327 in 37 games, and he will be an added bonus to an outfield that is already producing well offensively and defensively.
However, the true question is whether Dirks will be able to pick up where he left off following his injury that has sidelined him for almost two months.
Before his game with the Mud Hens on Friday night, Dirks was hitting .308 in four games during his rehab assignment.
What the Tigers will do upon Dirks' return to the team remains to be seen.
Everyone will speculate and decide who they feel should be sent off, but there is no doubt that the return of a healthy Andy Dirks has the potential to be a huge shot in the arm to this team.
Victor Martinez Returns Sooner Rather Than Later
There is little argument that Victor Martinez brings an element to the Tigers that no other player has the ability to do.
With that being said, the best thing that can happen to the Tigers is for Martinez to return before his anticipated date, which is mid to late September.
Even though there is no reason to assume this will happen, it would be incredibly positive to this team to get Martinez back before the late stretch run at the end of the regular season.
However, we should not assume that if/when Martinez returns to the lineup, he will be quickly be hitting above .300 and knocking in runs left and right. It will take Martinez some time to get back to the high level that he was at during the 2011 season.
There will be no greater news to Tiger fans than to hear that a healthy Victor Martinez is returning to the Detroit lineup.
Until then, all we can do is hope.