The All-Star game has come and gone and it is time to begin the ‘official’ second half of the Major League Baseball season. The question for Detroit fans is where will the Motor City Kitties be in October, the playoffs or the golf course?
For what it is worth, I tend to think that they are going to be playing baseball into October.
From the beginning there has been no doubt that this is a talented team. Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera are one heck of a one two punch offensively and any time you can throw Justin Verlander on the mound, you know you are going to have a chance to win. The problem to this point has been the lack of a supporting cast.
Over the last seven games however, the offensive has begun to heat up a bit. The Tigers have gone 5 – 2 and have seven players who batted at 0.300 or above over that stretch. Probably the most important of those would be Delmon Young and Brennon Boesch.
Young is a notorious streak hitter and if he continues this roll into the second half of the season then Prince and Miggy will be sure to see more opportunities to hit reasonable pitching. Couple that with Boesch finding his groove and there is a hint of the offense taking off as previously predicted.
The first ten games coming out of the All-Star break should help to tell the story with the Tigers though. They open with three games against the second place Orioles, the come home to play the Central Division leading White Sox for four games and finish at home with the LA Angels. Personally I think 7 – 3 is a near must for this stretch. It would put them either in first place or within striking distance in the AL Central and give them a boost to find their way the remainder of the season.
One other important reason for coming out of the All-Star break strong is the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31st. Even with Boesch and Young stepping it up, most people agree that the Tigers are a right handed hitter away from being a contender in the post-season. A strong showing would allow Mr. Ilitch to make a move with some confidence of the playoffs however stumbling to a 3 – 7 record may just make him rethink such a move and allow Dave Dombrowski to sell off a few players to acquire talent for next year.
With all that being said, I think the Tigers will win the AL Central by 5 games. Baseball is a game of streaks and if they can knock out a couple of 7 game winning streaks I don’t see that they will have any issues.
Once they get to the playoffs then it is a matter of keeping Verlander, Sherzer and Fister pitching well. If that happens, there is still no reason they can’t win the World Series. At this point, I don’t see any reason to change my preseason prediction of the Tigers winning the World Series.