The Playoff Run Begins…

Doug Fister, Newest Tigers Pitcher

You didn’t have to be in the stands at Comerica Park on Sunday to recognize that the season has begun to take a turn to the dramatic. On a day when most baseball minds were focused on who would be dealt where, it was Justin Verlander who decided to steal the show from a scrappy Angels team. If not for the steamy conditions in the ballpark, it had the intensity of a game in September filled with ejections, poor sportsmanship, and impressive pitching. While the Tigers were able to come out with the win in this one, this game highlighted that this baseball team is not going to have a walk in the park to take their first division title in a quarter century.

With the deadline behind us, the natural thought is whether Dave Dombrowski did all he could to keep the Tigers competitive in advance of the trade deadline. The two deals he was able to swing – Betemit from the Royals and Fister, Pauley from the Mariners, both resulted in decent talent arriving to the club with little departing in terms of minor league talent. Whether it’s a hesitation based on recent trade failures, or it is a contentment with this team playing in this weekend division, the Tigers now have their team for the next 54 games.

An additional reason why Dombrowski didn’t clean the cupboard, came through on the mound on Saturday. Jacob Turner finally got a taste of life in the big leagues, and showed some great poise as he powered through a pesky Angels lineup. While he had didn’t get any run support, and he had some major issues with holding runners, Turner showed a series of pitches that very few pitchers have command with. To think that Justin Verlander is the senior member of a young core of Tigers pitchers, which will soon be joined by the young Turner.

While the Indians may have taken a run at the division with a trade that took some key pieces out of their strong farm system, Ubaldo Jimenez will likely get only 10 starts down the stretch. For a rotation that may actually be the strength of their team, Jimenez is only a small factor for a team that has many holes in their lineup. Pitchers also seem to have some mixed reactions when they switch leagues, another factor for this trade. With the Indians showing that they’re not backing down for a challenge this year, the next few weeks of baseball will be must-see television.