It hasn't gone well for Detroit this season. And while I'll continue to contend that this is a baseball team that is substantially better than how they've played, to the average fan, that means nothing. Only crazy people like me will be with this team until the end of the line. Wins and losses are what matter. And maybe it's just the fan in me, but I did believe this would be a competitive baseball team this year. That hasn't been the case, but the Tigers still find themselves in the midst of baseball's longest active winning streak.
This Tigers team, mainly their pitching staff is an anomaly. Despite injuries to Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Michael Pineda, Jose Cisnero, and Kyle Funkhouser, Detroit currently ranks 6th in team ERA. The five teams ahead of them are the Twins, Angels, Astros, Dodgers, and Yankees. That's five teams in playoff contention, and then there's the Tigers. It speaks to the front office's failure. They have done a poor job of developing and signing hitters. Six years into a rebuild, the best signing they've had is Jonathan Scoop, and while Schoop and Jeimer Candelario seem to be coming around, that's not enough. A team this far removed from their last playoff appearance shouldn't have a lineup that is this subpar. And yet, they have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. It doesn't make sense. If you would've told me three years ago that Matt Manning, Casey Mize, and Tarik Skubal would be shutting down lineups all across the American League, I would've deemed it possible. And while Tarik Skubal is emerging as one of the best pitchers in the American League, this team is getting production out of Alex Faedo, Jacob Barnes, Wily Peralta, and Will Vest. No disrespect, but we're not exactly talking about the '95 Braves. It shows that the personnel in place for the Tigers is as good as it's been in years. A.J. Hinch is an excellent manager, but much credit goes to the pitching God Chris Fetter. For a team that's ten games under. 500, I shiver at how bad their record would be if they didn't have a competent staff.
It's hard to use words like "hope" when talking about a team that has struggled as much as this one has. As early as we are into this season, I know several people who have already checked out, and I understand that. But the wheels are finally spinning again. And they've buried themselves early, and it's remarkably frustrating for a team that many Detroit fans believed would at least compete for a wild card. Sadly, I don't see that happening this year. The offense is too inconsistent and they've dug themselves too big of a hole. Are things good? No. Will they get better? With this pitching staff, I think they will.