By: Matt Dery
It is fun again at Comerica Park. The weekend sweep of the White Sox made it crystal clear that the Detroit Tigers are the kings of the AL
(comedy) Central. Miguel Cabrera is on a serious tear again and no matter which button Jim Leyland presses at this time, it seems to be working. Yes, the offense is alive and well and the guys are hitting in the clutch, but I see the biggest reason for the team’s success on the mound. Pitching is what wins in baseball and right now the Tigs have shut down the opposition with consistency on the hill. Heck, even Mitch Albom wrote a column on Rick Porcello this weekend! In all seriousness, I said earlier in the year that the key to this team would be how Porcello and Max Scherzer perform and both have been very good since June 17th. Max 4-1 with his ERA dropping from 5.76 to 4.61 and Porcello with 3 wins and 4 quality starts. Add in the health of Doug Fister, and the best pitcher in baseball in Justin Verlander and all of the sudden the Tigers look like a contender again.
Furthermore, while some uninformed media types want to replace Jose Valverde, all he has done has saved 14 of his last 16 and he has not been healthy all year. Joaquin Benoit is perfect where he is, pitching the eighth inning.
Detroit’s team ERA is 7th in the AL, but, most importantly it is tops in the AL Central. I understand that fans get frustrated over lineups, the hole at second base, and the team’s putrid defense, but in the end, if the Tigers want to make a run at the World Series they will do it by outpitching their opponent. Just ask Chicago. Just ask Cleveland. The White Sox went from a top 5 ERA to 9th now in the AL.
Injuries to Gavin Floyd and Johnny Danks have really hurt them and now Jake Peavy has leveled off a bit over his last few outings. Their bullpen is young and doesn’t have the experience that the Tigers pen has. It just doesn’t. The Indians offense is anemic, but, their team ERA is 13th in the AL. 3 of the Tribe’s 5 starters have ERA’s north of 5. They don’t pitch well enough to win. Period. KC is 11th and Minnesota 14th by the way in the AL in ERA.
I will not and cannot discredit what the lineup is doing right now.
Jhonny Peralta is now hitting. Brennan Boesch is also up from his 3 month nap. The Tigers spent a lot of money on their everyday lineup, I get it. The Comerica Park press box rocks when their boys crank out the home runs. I know. I hear it. But pitching still wins. That is just my belief.