Jul. 01, 2016
Detroit Tigers Playoff Chances Slim to None
After being swept in brutal fashion by the Cleveland Indians, the Detroit Tigers now find themselves tied for third place, seven whole games back in the American League Central. The demoralizing sweep was enough to make many Detroit fans, myself included, believe that the Tigers have lost their chance to win the division.
The Tigers have lost nine consecutive games to the Indians to start the 2016 season. The Tigers have amassed an 0-9 record against their division rivals by being outscored at a rate of three-to-one (60-20). While the Tigers’ offense has been pathetic over these three series, their pitching staff has also been horrendous. Detroit pitchers have managed an unsightly 6.58 ERA while allowing 14 home runs.
How, as fans, are we supposed to believe in a team that can’t ever seem to beat the two teams ahead of them? The Tigers have managed a dismal 2-14 record combined against those teams, the Indians and the Kansas City Royals. In fact, the Tigers have played below .500 within their division overall, limping to a 12-16 record within the American League Central.
This team is one that just cannot seem to stay hot. Nearly halfway through the season, they have been unable to manage a winning streak of more than five games; even that has happened only twice. Furthermore, after one of the five-game win streaks, Detroit went on to lose seven in a row. Most recently, Detroit swept a four-game series against the Seattle Mariners, which at the time pulled them within four games of the division-leading Cleveland Indians. Once again, that positive momentum was countered when the Tigers were swept by the Indians. This all demonstrates the team’s inability to keep more positive momentum than negative as they continue to disappoint fans time and again.
After the most recent broom job by Cleveland, Justin Verlander told the media, “I think we’re better than a .500 club, I think we’ve shown flashes of it.” What kind of response is that? I do not care if you’ve shown flashes of brilliance; flashes are the most I can now expect from this team. This is disappointing because team owner Mike Ilitch has put together a team that has a World Series payroll and yet has played like a small market team. It doesn’t matter how good they are on paper; the performance on the field is what matters. The Tigers’ entire roster -from rotation to bullpen, and starting lineup to bench – have all under-performed. Simply put, at this stage of the season, this team has given their fans little to no hope.
When asked if the team had reached its crisis point, backup catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia stated, “[You] can’t win it, obviously, in the first three months, but you can lose it. I don’t think we’re at that point at all. No one’s running away with the division.” Do you think he’s looked at the standings lately? Any time Detroit has gotten within striking distance, the team has found a way to implode and fall back out of the race. Case in point: entering the Indians series only four games back, and exiting in a seven-game hole. There’s been a frightening trend of winning streaks being matched by losing streaks. Saltalamacchia is definitely right when he added, “you can lose it.” In the first three months of the season, I am afraid the Tigers may have managed to do just that.
As much as it pains me to say it, I must: the Detroit Tigers seem to have lost their chance at defending the title of American League Central Champions. Despite being only 2.5 games out of the Wild Card race, this team does not have what it takes to make the playoffs. I will continue to watch the games any chance I have; however, at this point my only expectation is disappointment. I have accepted that Detroit has spoiled its playoff chances for 2016. Chances are, their only role come the fall will be that of spoiler.