The Tigers gave up 30 runs in two games to a crappy Mets team, nearly obliterating their positive run differential in a matter of hours. Angel Pagan, Jose Reyes, and (the ghost of) Jason Bay ran roughshod over the Motor City Kitties. If Detroit can’t hang with a low-level National League team at home, how are they possibly going to hang on to the lead in the newly competitive AL Central? Take a deep breath, Tiger fans, here are four reasons not to jump...
Striking out just over 4 batters per nine, while walking about three and a half (that’s a K/BB of 1.23) is not the recipe for sticking in a major league rotation. Coke just doesn’t have the complete mix of pitches needed to keep hitters off balance for six and seven innings at a time. His fastball, which had been his most effective pitch (according to FanGraphs Pitch Type Values) in each of the last three years, has been his least effective pitch this season.
Without an effective fastball, Coke has struggled to put hitters away, evidenced by is plummeting Swinging Strike Rate, which sits at just 6.9% for the season, a far cry from the 11-12% rates he’d posted coming out of the bullpen.
Moving Coke back to his comfort zone in the bullpen should lead to a bounce-back in his production, as well as an improvement in the starting rotation. If Charlie Furbush can hold his own as a starter, and his 3.93 K/BB at Toledo and 2.49 ERA so far with the Tigers suggest that he might be able to, this move could be a two-pronged improvement in the pitching staff.
Verlander is an ace in the truest sense. He’s put up a 0.92 ERA in the month of June, while grabbing hold of the AL lead is strikeouts (130).
After the Mets offense exploded against Coke and Rick Porcello, Verlander took the mound this afternoon and calmly held New York to one run over seven innings. He’s put an end to the Tigers' worst two-game stretch of the season, without the harsh morning reality of a Mark Grace-style slump buster.
In short, Verlander has been everything that an ace should be: reliable, consistent, and devastatingly effective.
The AL Central has been a hotbed of shortstop excellence this season, with Jhonny Peralta, Alexei Ramirez, and Asdrubal Cabrera getting off to scorching starts. Even so, the Tigers haven’t seen anything like Jose Reyes before.
Reyes’ electrifying speed haunted the Tigers all weekend. It’s especially rare (and especially frustrating) to watch one player single-handedly dominate a baseball series, but Reyes’ dominance wasn’t an exposition of a major hole in the Tigers’ pitching or defense, rather it was simply a reminder of the seemingly limitless talent reserves that Reyes has rediscovered this season. Luckily for the Tigers, it’s unlikely the he'll set on the field at Comerica Park again this season.
The Tigers scored a total of 17 runs in the series. Using their season team ERA of 4.36 as a base for what the Tigers will generally allow on a per-game basis, 17 runs over three games would generally yield a positive run differential and probably result in a series win.
A couple of pitchers had a couple of bad games, but the offense was there. Over the course of a 162-game season, pitchers will have bad games and some of those bad games will occur on back-to-back days. Out of all of the reasons that I’ve listed, this one is the most important.
There’s really never a reason to get too high or too low as a result of just one series. The Tigers are still in first place and look to be in great shape to defend that position for the balance of the season.