The Detroit Tigers have gotten off to a 5-4 start, but records don't mean anything this early in the season. The team is is still trying to find its groove, and that is why the upcoming nine-game West Coast trip will help the Tigers immensely.
Detroit could easily be 7-2 at this point, but due to the bullpen's early struggles, the Tigers are only one game above .500.
Fans are fretting about the bullpen, but the Tigers will sort that out either through trades or by the starters going deeper into games.
While watching the early season games, people might assume that the bullpen could be the downfall of the Tigers—but it won't be. There is too much talent in the bullpen, and each pitcher will get comfortable with their role and settle down.
That being said, to help achieve a specific role for each bullpen member, it is imperative that the Tigers find a permanent closer. It now appears that Jose Valverde is the likely favorite to get that opportunity.
Until that happens, the most immediate solution for the Tigers is their West Coast trip. The players will have a chance to bond and not listen to Detroit sports talk radio about their "slow" start, away from overreacting fans.
The Tigers will be able to focus on baseball and build trust amongst their teammates. They might not have overwhelming success on this trip, but the positives will likely be felt later in the season once the players know each other better from their first extended road trip.
Some fans might argue that building chemistry is what spring training is for, and they would be correct. However, on road trips, players go to dinner and events with teammates that they normally might not do when they are home.
As the Tigers prepare to take on an Oakland Athletics team that is 7-2 and playing great overall baseball with a three-game series starting on April 12, the Tigers need to focus solely on baseball without any outside distractions.
Detroit is a better team than its record shows. Their batting lineup is one of the best in baseball, which complements their five starting pitchers. That is why the Tigers' bullpen troubles will soon become a distant memory, and I believe it will all start on this road trip out west.
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