A split with the Houston Astros in a four game series takes the Detroit Tigers to the west coast in Oakland tonight with a meeting with the Athletics. Yesterday they were shut down by the Athletics pitching staff, tonight they look to bounce back behind David Price. The Tigers got off to a blistering start to the year, but have regressed a bit since then. Which was to be expected with the Tigers. They weren’t going to continue at that clip. There is one surprising notion about this team, however. And that is their bullpen. In what was expected to be losses due to the bullpen hasn’t been the case. The Tigers of course had one of the worst bullpens in all of baseball last season, and it was the principal reason why they weren’t able to get by the Baltimore Orioles in the postseason and fail to reach the World Series. The bullpen hasn’t been that thorn in their side this season, in fact, the Tigers own one of the best bullpens statistically at the moment. The Tiger offense got stuck in a funk, which was the reason for the regression. As I just stated, numbers usually line up by seasons end as variance catches up so no surprise to me. I think the Tigers in a spot now where we expected them to be. They’re 26-19 and have had some nice wins and in other instances looked like an average team.
The ineffectiveness of Victor Martinez is what has kept the offense bogged down this season. Always one of the most consistent hitters in their offense, Martinez hasn’t had the year he’s wanted to. That could very well be a result of an injury, as the Tigers went ahead and put him on the 15 DL to nurse a hamstring. Another offender could be Nick Castellanos, who was the number 1 prospect in the Tigers organization for several seasons before making the jump to the majors last season. I cannot count how many times I’ve seen him just come up short in pressure spots. He’ll get a hit when it’s pretty well pointless at that point, but Castellanos hasn’t had clutch in his veins just yet in his career. There is still plenty of time to grow as a player, but him and Martinez have held the Tigers back from winning a few more games than they have currently.
The efficiency of Victor Martinez coming back holds a lot of answers for the Tigers. I suspect if he returns to form they’ll be right there as World Series contenders considering the way the bullpen has been performing. However, will they be able to continue to play at this level? Remember it is only May.
It appears the Athletics really need to go back to the drawing board. The addition of Billy Butler hasn’t had much of an impact on the A’s and they have fallen back heavily. Now they welcome a familiar foe to Oakland, a foe that has cut them down time and time again in the postseason. By all accounts it looks like they A’s won’t have to worry about the Tigers there this season because I don’t think the A’s are going to be there. The Athletics have appeared to exhaust their chances of reaching the World Series, in the immediate future anyways. Knocking off the Tigers in any setting would surely feel good for the A’s, though. They look to do that tonight, read below for the pick.
Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics
David Price (3-1, 3.32 ERA) vs. Jesse Chavez (1-4, 2.89 ERA)
Jesse Chavez has had a pretty good year for the A’s but having no run support to show for it results in a 1-4 record. That isn’t a good reflection on the Athletics lineup that they have a pitcher with an ERA of 2.89 but his ensuing record is a paltry 1-4. David Price isn’t exactly the kind of pitcher that the Athletics have had much success against. Price, a lefty, comes in facing an Oakland that team that has struggled mightily against left handed pitching. The Athletics are hitting only .211 against them and haven’t been able to show any improvement with a .196 batting average in their last five games. The Tigers haven’t been hitting lefties either, but hey, Jesse Chavez is right handed and they have been mashing the ball against them. They are hitting right handed pitching at a clip of .314 in their last five games and .278 overall. Chavez has had a heck of a time against this Tigers team in his career, a 9.90 ERA.
The Athletics at 16-30 have just had an abysmal season. One that wasn’t expected to go this way, but with numbers like .196 at the plate it is easy to see why they are at 16-30. The Tigers should be feeling a little hungry after dropping two in a row against the Astros. They have a tremendous history against this team, beating them four straight times and 7-3 in their last ten meetings. Edge to Price in the pitching matchup, edge to the Tigers lineup, and edge to the Tigers overall in this game. I will take the Tigers at a pretty nice price.
PICK: TIGERS TO WIN -114