[PODCAST] Tigers Slide Continues
Shep talks about the Detroit Tigers continuing slide against the Texas Rangers and Oakland A's, the struggles of the starting rotation and Verlander's drop in velocity.
Every fan base faces some concerns at some point during the season.
The Chicago Blackhawks are worried about their team being down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals.
There were Miami Heat fans a little worried after dropping Game 1 to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Even New England Patriot fans are wondering aloud whether they have what it takes to get past Denver, Seattle or San Francisco this season.
We, as Tigers fans, recognized the warts this team had coming into the season: shortstop, bullpen and left field. Rajai Davis has been better than anyone expected in left field, and the bullpen has actually impressed at times with Joba Chamberlain and Ian Krol.
Shortstop is a concern, but anyone who knew anything about baseball and the players sharing duties at that position knew the offensive expectations for Andrew Romine and Danny Worth were limited.
We never thought the starting rotation would be an issue. It was the one certainty we had with this team. When in doubt, we had our starters.
"This team would never suffer through much of a losing streak because we had at least three stoppers."
We banked that Justin Verlander would return to his Cy Young/MVP form, that Max Scherzer would pick up where he left off with his Cy Young campaign and Anibal Sanchez would do the same after leading the league in ERA in 2013. Many were wondering about Drew Smyly, who most wanted in the rotation last year, whether or not he could handle the challenges of an every fifth-day starter.
Well, the nightmare run is here. The starters have allowed 44 runs in their last 44 innings pitched. Tigers pitching, over the last eight games, has a 7.50 ERA -- almost a full run worse than the next worst team in the league (Boston) over that stretch.
The starters have surrendered 75 hits in those 44 innings. Four times they allowed double-digit hits, and in all but two of the outings they surrendered at least five runs. One of those starts was the gem pitched by Sanchez, where he offered up just two runs and five hits to the Rangers.
There is no reason to freak out right now. Two of these horrific starts belong to Verlander. Yet because of his track record and “stuff,” no one believes he won’t pitch himself out of it. Two other starts belong to Smyly, and actually only one (vs. Oakland on Monday) was brutal. One belongs to Robbie Ray, who is no longer with the big league club and one goes to Max Scherzer, who battled for seven innings, but clearly did not have his best stuff.
This is baseball, but Tigers fans are tired of tipping their cap to the opposition. No one expected this team to go 162-0, but it’s fair that fans expect to be more competitive than 12-2, 12-4, 10-0 and 9-2 during a week-span, especially with the starting pitching this team possesses.
It may not be time to panic, but it is worth monitoring because there is no quick fix to this rotation. They are the Tigers hopes for 2014 and must carry this team to where we all believe it should go: a World Series Championship.
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.