The Tigers have been a painful watch at times this year.
Their margin for error is sliver thin.
With injuries to J.D Martinez, Justin Upton, Jose Iglesias and a nagging back to Miguel Cabrera in the series wrap up in Tampa, the Tigers were forced to start a rookie who should be in Toledo, batting .167; an outfielder out of options mired in an 0-14 slump; a rookie shortstop making his second start; a utility player; and a first baseman who has played the position just 18 times in his career.
It ended badly.
Daniel Norris sputtered, meaning the Tigers are now 0-5 this year when they don’t get a quality start.
They hit .188 against Tampa and struck out 30 times.
It’s one series, and their first series loss by the way, so there is no reason to over-analyze and panic, but it does show you just how challenging it will be for this team.
In order for the Tigers to win, this team will need a stellar effort from its starters and the “big guns” will have to carry the offensive load.
Already, the Tigers have moved five relievers to Toledo, showing us just how vulnerable those roles can be and accentuating the void of talent out there.
The Tigers need to bring up Joe Jimenez and give him the seventh inning.
The kid’s debut last week featured three batters and 13 pitches, resulting in three outs.
He pitched for Toledo Thursday and threw ten pitches, all for strikes, and featured three strikeouts.
Keep Justin Wilson in the eighth and Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth. Tell Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy they are situational pitchers and Anibal Sanchez, Shane Greene and/or Kyle Ryan they are long relievers.
Jimenez will make a huge difference because he gets outs differently than the other relievers (except for J. Wilson) by getting strikeouts.
Think about how this team is constructed: it has two utility players (Romine and Machado); three outfielders (Collins, Jones, Mahtook) competing for two spots, none of which are ready for an everyday role in the big leagues.
This team CANNOT win unless its best players perform and unless it gets the bullpen situation figured out. If management is willing to bring up the young positional guys to learn in the bigs, then they can do it with a hard-throwing pitcher like Jimenez, who can instantly upgrade, and dare I say, solve a problem with his ability.
I give the Tigers front office credit in the sense that it has recognized flaws in the bullpen and made moves to try and correct the issue, but that admiration will soon falter if it doesn’t elevate the kid who deserves the promotion most.
Get Jimenez back and give him the damn ball. It’ll solve at least one of this team’s major issues.
Matt Shepard is the play-by-play voice of University of Michigan basketball, Eastern Michigan University football and the Detroit Lions television network. He can also be found on TV locally on Fox Sports Detroit and nationally on the Big Ten Network for college hockey and baseball.Learn more.