If you like energy and excitement in baseball, which doesn’t include the actual baseball, you’ve enjoyed the last couple of days. First, of course, what transpired in Texas on Sunday, and then last night Brad Ausmus went bonkers because of a strike call against the Twins. You don’t see much emotion from Ausmus, but he was giving the ump all he had. He certainly got his two words in and then some. On the field, there was some excitement as well. The Ausmus incident occurred after the Tigers jumped out to a 8-0 lead in the 1st inning, only to see it evaporate to a 8-7 game. The Tigers ultimately held on and didn’t allow the Twins to complete a total comeback, as Detroit took it by a score of 10-8. The offense has been stagnant in Detroit, we’ve been waiting for it to erupt at any moment. And this goes for Miguel Cabrera too, who has looked as bad as we have ever seen. However, there have been signs lately of everyone waking up.
Cabrera belted long balls in back-to-back games against the Orioles to bring his home run mark up to 6. His batting average is also up to .286, so he has found his swing over the past couple of weeks. I suspect he’ll be above the .300 range by the middle of the summer. Again, like I have said previously in Tigers’ write-ups, it isn’t the offense that worries me. I think the offense will shine in the summer. What concerns me is the pitching department. It’s particularly troublesome that they don’t have any depth on the mound.
This goes for the starting rotation and bullpen. Before it was just the bullpen, now the starters aren’t up to par with how it was when they made the postseason two years ago. The Tigers are in danger of missing out on the postseason two years in a row. And that is pretty inexcusable for a team with their payroll. It isn’t like the Tigers bailed out in the offseason either, they added some players in an attempt to be a serious team. Justin Upton came on board, along with Jordan Zimmermann, two highly paid players.
Zimmermann is earning his money, but Upton has been a dud, hitting just .216 with 2 home runs and an alarming strikeout rate. Upton, I hate to call you out, but you are definitely a reason for the Tigers’ struggles. At the end of the day though, it’s going to be pitching unable to hold leads that will sink this team.
Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers
Phil Hughes (1-6, 6.44 ERA) vs. Mike Pelfrey (0-4, 5.80 ERA)
Phil Hughes fits in the category of a pitcher with an impending retirement. I hate to pick on a guy who doesn’t want to quit, but it’s almost time for Phil. I question how much longer he is going to be able to hang around and pitch at a respectable level. This year might be the one that makes him take a hard look at his career. Hughes hoped to be the next big thing for the Yankees, and while he had a long seven year career with the team, I can’t say that it worked out the way everybody would have wanted it to. Hughes didn’t have any sub-3.00 ERA years in New York.
His best full year on the mound came in 2014, his first year with the Twins, actually. This season he hasn’t found his element, posting a 6.44 ERA with just 1 win. He has gotten obliterated in his last three starts, with a 12.27 ERA and 2.09 WHIP. I think one or two more blow-ups for Hughes and the Twins might be considering shutting him down due to an undisclosed injury that we don’t know about, or down to the minors to figure it out. Hughes said five days ago that he is losing his identity as a pitcher, not good coming from the horses mouth.
Hughes doesn’t have the most favorable numbers against the Tigers, so finding an identity against them may be a bit tough. He has pitched for a 4.63 ERA against the Tigers in seventeen starts. The best weapon the Twins might have is Tigers’ pitcher, Mike Pelfrey. Former Twin, Pelfrey, has not looked comfortable with his new team and has already gotten creamed against them this year with 5 runs allowed in 4 innings pitched. Pelfrey has done worse at Comerica Park, posting a 7.04 ERA compared to 4.87 on the road. I don’t know how both of these guys don’t get bombed. It lends itself to a play on the OVER.
PICK: OVER 9 RUNS (-125)