Yes, your Detroit Tigers, on April 26, are 10-8, currently holding the top spot in the AL Central, and I, personally, will take that.
Last April 26, the Tigers, after the horrendous 0-7 start, were 6-12, and the whole year was spent trying to recover. Yes, it's only 18 games into a 162 game season, but so far, I think Tigers fans should be pleased with how the team is doing. I know I am.
But the pessimists will say that they're bullpen isn't going to hold up, or the pitching staff will ultimately let them down. That could be true, and that was the main problem last year, and could easily lead them down the wrong path again this year. Here's my little analysis of the Tigers so far, with letter grades:
Justin Verlander: C+
So far, minus a great start against Texas, Verlander is still looking pretty shaky. He's throwing wild pitches...actually his pitches are all over the place thus far. An 0-2 record with a 9.00 ERA isn't looking too good so far, but I have to hope he gets it together this year. Verlander is going to be key to what the Tigers do this year. He has the potential to be the pitcher he was in 2006
Armando Gallaraga: A-
Nothing has changed from last year. Seemingly coming out of nowhere to lead the Tigers in wins by a pitcher with 13, some would say that Gallaraga should and could be the Tigers' "ace". Gallaraga is commanding his pitches well and changing speeds to throw hitters off when he has too. So far so good for Armando. Here's to hoping that he can keep it going.
Edwin Jackson: B-
Although his last start against the Angels wasn't at all pretty, going five innings and allowing six runs, Jackson has been pretty solid, and a great pickup by Dombrowski. He lit it up his debut start at Toronto, but the bullpen would let him down in the end. Jackson is looking like a good middle-of-the-rotation starter so far for the Tigers.
Zach Miner: C-
Hmm...Zach Miner as your fourth starter...do we like him, Tigers fans? Personally, I don't. Although, in his last start against Kansas City, he was credited with the W, he hasn't lasted more than five innings in his thre starts. That's definitely not going to get it done in the summer when the wins are going to have to come often, and when you need your starters to last 6 2/3 to seven innings at least to have a good chance to be successful.
Rick Porcello: B-
He is our resident 20-year-old starter. Him being the youngest player this year in the league is going to be a good thing and bad thing. He had a great start against Seattle after letting up the homer to Cedeno. He really started to settle down and show people what type of pitcher he can be for Detroit in the future. But Friday night against Kansas City, he just made some mistakes against some good big league hitters, who took advantage of him, and he'll learn from that.
The Bullpen....the focal point of jokes among angry Tigers fans and other baseball fans, but the focal point of how far the tigers can go this year too. Zumaya coming back should definitely give the pen a boost.
Rodney—Rodney has been very efficient, with three saves in the chances he's been given. Let's just hope for no blown saves.
Brandon Lyon—Lyon has been like the stock market; up and down. Right now, the market is down, but Lyon is in the middle. He has been good in some appearances, but he has been like ol' Todd Jones in the others, making Tigers fans grimace when we think of ol' Todd.
Bobby Seay—Ever since the Tigers have had Seay with them, I have really liked him a lot. He gives the tigers a great left-hander out of the 'pen to deal with the left-handed bats in the AL Central (i.e., Justin Morneau who has done a lot of damage to Tigers pitching).
Nate Robertson—Apparently, Nate has made it public that he doesn't like being in the bullpen. To that, I can only say, like Jim Calhoun, my best advice to you is to "shut up". Seriously, Robertson. After '06, he has been horrible, and if the Tigers only give him one inning to pitch out of the 'pen and all he has to do is hold the lead and get three outs, then that can't be so hard, right Nate?
Ryan Perry—Another one of the Tigers' young pitching arms, Perry, when given the ball, from what I've seen, has done a solid job. Like Porcello, he could use some minor league experience, but he and Porcello just have to continue to learn and be coachable.
Granderson—Hitting .264 with six homers (leads the Tigers) 12 RBI and playing his usual great defense, he continues to be a great leadoff man.
Polanco—Batting .271 with no homers, but 12 RBI, Polanco is the silent but steady type. He plays awesome defense, and whenever the Tigers need a hit, he always seems to come through in the clutch.
Sheffield—HAHA! Got ya! Won't miss those strikeouts, Gary. Have fun playing once every 5-6 days.
Ordonez—He is hitting .273, just got his first homer over the weekend, and also has seven RBI. So far, I think it's been a slow start for Magglio, and I've heard some people say that Magglio should be moved. I dont know why Detroit would do that, because he can still hit. He's a fun guy, a fan favorite, and how can anyone forget the homer in the 2006 ALCS? It was a Detroit sports classic I know I won't forget.
Cabrera—Nothing has really surprised me about Cabrera. If you give him a bad pitch, he'll absolutely crush it. At the end of last year, he started to get used to being in the AL and how the pitchers pitched him. At the beginning of this year, you are seeing why he is one of the best young hitters in the AL. Oh, and apparently last week ESPN said that the Tigers were putting him on the trading block or something...hmm.
Inge—Inge actually is hitting the ball far (i.e., extra base hits and homers!) and isn't check-swing striking out anymore!!!! Yay!!!!!!!. He has a .322 average and six homers for 15 RBI; oh wow, he's come a long way. To say the least, Inge's play has surprised me to some bit, but not his defense. He's a great defender, especially at third, where having a good defender down there is needed.
Adam Everett—I dont know. At first, when I heard about the signing, I was kind of confused. Apparently he plays good "D" so I'm on board with that—nothing like the classic double-play to help the pitcher out. And apparently he's a good hitter! He has a .303 average, but maybe now he should hit a homer!
Guillen—Been kind of disappointed with Carlos. I thought he could produce more at this point, but hey, it's a long season, so i have to believe he picks it up a little. He is, though, adjusting nice to playing left field this year.
Laird—Another great pickup in the offseason. I have seen some great defense from him so far and some good hitting. He handles the pitching staff well, so three cheers for Laird!.
To simply conclude, pitching+defense+hitting=championship. The Tigers have the ingredients in all three categories to make a run at the AL Central title.
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