It’s very clear that during the 2016 baseball season, the Cleveland Indians have not done the Detroit Tigers any favors. The Tigers have only mustered up one win in 11 chances against the Indians, and the Indians have pulled out some miraculous come-from-behind wins against their opponents this season. Cleveland has dominated the American League Central with a record of 37-18, compared to Detroit’s 29-30. As the teams have turned the corner in the last weeks of August and gone into September, The Tigers cannot seem to put their wins together at the right times.
There have been many opportunities for the Tigers to catch ground on the Cleveland Indians, but it seems as if each time the Indians lose, so do the Tigers. Each time the Indians win, so do the Tigers. It seems nearly impossible for the Tigers to gain ground on the Cleveland Indians. This was glaringly the case earlier in the week. The Cleveland Indians lost two of three to the Houston Astros, giving Detroit the opportunity to catch ground. Instead, the Detroit Tigers, who were playing the White Sox, also went on to lose two of three. In the last month, since August 10, the Tigers have been very average, going 15-13 over that stretch. By comparison, the Cleveland Indians have gone 19-12 over the same stretch of time.
Now, the Tigers have an interesting situation to deal with in the midst of the season’s final stretch. The Tigers received good news when they learned that Jordan Zimmerman was ready to come off the DL. In his last three starts for Toledo in his rehab, he threw 12.1 innings, nine hits, eight runs, 2 of them earned, and eight strikeouts. There was some trouble in his last start for Toledo, however. He went 4.3 innings, giving up six hits, seven runs (two of them earned) 3 strikeouts, but two home runs.
In his first start back for the Tigers, Zimmerman only last one inning, giving up six earned runs on four hits, giving up three home runs. Obviously, the Tigers are going to assess Zimmerman in hopes that their big pitcher, who started the season so well, can get back into post-season shape. They will want him to use down the stretch and if they get into the playoffs. Luckily for the Tigers, young players like Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris have been looking much more solid while Michael Fulmer has started to come back to Earth a little after such a magnificent start to his MLB career.
The number one issue the Tigers are dealing with now is consistency; they’ve finally gotten the offensive push from Justin Upton that they had waited for all year, but now they need to rely on starting pitching that keeps them in the game, and they need their bullpen to continue maintaining leads down the stretch. Despite the fact the Tigers still have seven games against the Indians, it’s hard to imagine the Tigers making enough of a push for them to overtake the division lead. Now, the Tigers, who had a lock on that second Wild Card spot, are tied with the Yankees for one game out of the Wild Card. The Tigers are going to need to lock down and play their best baseball down the last few weeks of the season. Otherwise, they will be watching the playoffs from their couch instead of being a part of it at all.