The Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers have shared some epic battles in the postseason over recent years, but the postseason might be a stretch for both of them in 2016. While the Tigers still possess plenty of talent, they have been getting lapped by the Royals and don’t look as much of a threat. Now with the surging Chicago White Sox, the Tigers are in danger of being an afterthought in the AL Central. Or is that comment just overreaching a bit? I would say yes to a degree. While the Royals are the team to beat in the division, the Tigers still have some punch, but it’s a bit of a mangled mess. Management is throwing talent at a dartboard and hope it sticks. In baseball, we have found out, the formula of just opening up the wallet doesn’t result in an automatic World Series.
The Tigers have poured in plenty of money, with a whopping payroll to try and bring a World Series to Detroit. The Tigers made the World Series, but the Giants took care of them fairly easily. Their chances of winning it all erode with every passing year. Miguel Cabrera isn’t getting any younger, but the guy is still mega talented. Despite getting off to a slow start to the year, Cabrera is going to be fine. He busted out of slump in a big way on Monday, going 4-4 at the plate with 2 HRs. Cabrera’s BAA has quickly bumped to .254. He went 2-4 last night, in the Tigers 9-4 victory.
A couple of other big hitters J.D. Martinez and Victor Martinez broke through in a big way last night. J.D. went deep, finishing with 4 RBIs on the night, with Victor going deep as well and bringing home 3 runners. If you can get all three of those guys hot at the same time, the Tigers become a very difficult team to beat. The offense has been on a funk lately, but their bats don’t worry me as much as the pitching.
As the weather heats up, watch for their offense to take flight, but the pitching is going to be a point of issues. Jordan Zimmermann has been the only Tigers’ starter who has come out and earned his money. Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander have seen better days, and Mike Pelfrey is a gas can out there. They aren’t going to go far with this rotation, or the bullpen they have to back them up. The Tigers are a fun team with all of the deep power threats they have on the roster, but all of that flash and excitement is going to be tough to overcome the Royals, a team who plays some of the best fundamentally sound baseball in the Major Leagues. The Athletics and Tigers get started early this afternoon, so be sure to lock your picks in on time.
Oakland Athletics vs. Detroit Tigers
Chris Bassitt (0-1, 4.44 ERA) vs. Anibal Sanchez (2-2, 7.00 ERA)
The way I see it, a lot of this season hinges on Anibal Sanchez. The Tigers have Zimmermann in their barn, as they were fortunate enough to acquire him in the winter, but the cupboard appears empty otherwise. Justin Verlander can still be vintage Verlander once or a twice a month. But where is the consistency from the pitching in Detroit? Sanchez has started the year with a whopping 7.00 ERA. In his last three starts, his ERA eclipsed 8.00 and posted an abysmal WHIP of 2.08 with a .415 OBA. I don’t know if there is anything Sanchez can really “fix”. His fastball hasn’t had the same velocity that we’ve seen in the past, and that might just be a consequence of getting older. He can still be a much better pitcher than what he’s displayed lately, but Sanchez isn’t going to be a pitcher that should be at the top of the rotation anymore.
Sanchez hopes to get the same run support Verlander did last night. The Tigers brought home 9 runs, looking a little more like the lineup they have on paper. Detroit will have Chris Bassitt across them in the hill tonight. Bassitt has seen the Tigers’ lineup in just 14.1 innings pitched, posting an adequate ERA of 3.21 and 1.29 WHIP. The Tigers’ offense is a team to ride in waves. Their offense can look like dog feces for a couple weeks, and then turn it on the next two weeks. After last night’s offensive outburst, I expect some more offense from the Tigers today. Sanchez has shown major signs of wear and tear lately, so the A’s should be able to get theirs as well.
PICK: OVER 8.5 RUNS (-105)