First: our Detroit Tigers will win the AL Central division, no question. With an exception or two, all we really have left on the schedule is Cleveland, Kansas City, and Minnesota.
While Justin Verlander has had some inconsistency issues, Max Scherzer has stepped up big time, as has Delmon Young. Both have been super strong with timely pitching and hitting. And to think that every broadcaster in this town was ready to ride Young out of town under a truck for his actions earlier in the year! But he’s still a Tiger. It’s a good thing too, because the pitching in our league has caught up with Alex Avila as well as a couple of others. Scherzer and Young have made up for those who have not produced. I would not be surprised to see the Tigers trade for a solid catcher over the winter.
Every pitcher gets his brains beat out once in a while. Now, JV has had some issues lately, like getting his brains beaten out, much like the All-Star game and maybe he won’t win many awards this year, but he is still more formidable and effective than just about anyone, still one of the top five pitchers in the American League. What confuses me at this time is the number of curveballs that he’s throwing. Usually that’s a sign of one of three things:
- The pitcher is tired.
- He has a sore arm.
- He has lost something on his fastball.
By throwing more curveballs you can protect your arm a little in the short term, by short-arming the pitch, and not having to extend your arm fully. If Verlander is losing a little on his fastball that is one thing, but it appears to me that his movement on his fastball is a little less than in previous years and his control does not appear to be as sharp as the previous years.
By the way, has Max Scherzer finally found himself? We all know that Max has always had the stuff to be a solid winner. In his last five or six performances he has been way above the inconsistent performances that we have witnessed by Max. He has 15 wins now and I can tell you that is the best thing that can happen for Verlander too, competition within your own team is always healthy, I know, Mickey Lolich and I went at it for years. Both of us wanted to be #1, so it made the two of us better.
There was a lot made of Miguel Cabrera not running out a ground ball last week and the ground ball turned into a double play, because Cabrera took it for granted that it was a routine double play, which of course Cabrera does often. But Andy Dirks slid into the second baseman, upset the timing of the double play, and if Cabrera had been running he would have easily beat the throw to first.
I suspect that any other player would have gotten pure hell for that, and I suppose Jim Leyland did say something to his star slugger, but the lesson is simple, you must run out every ball that you hit anywhere in the park. Do I have to remind everyone what made Pete Rose the player he was, they did not call him Charlie Hustle for nothing! The easiest thing that any major league player can do every time he hits the ball is run to first base as fast as he can.
If Cabrera’s hurt, sit him down for a couple of days and you better be ready for the last week of the season, because this race has got a great chance of being really intense.
Lastly, Leyland needs to change the lineup just a tad: place Prince Fielder ahead of Cabrera in the lineup and I promise you that Fielder will hit 30 points higher and that would get our lineup going. I think that if Jim would make that move, our Tigers would coast into the playoffs.