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The 2015 Tigers began the season without Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. They began the season without their closer (Joe Nathan), and without much help in other areas of the bullpen. Still, on paper, they should have made a strong case for the American League Central. Perhaps the cherry on top of the get-your-hopes-up cake was that the Tigers started the season 11-2. They were winning with pitching, hitting, defense and speed on the basepaths. The wins looked real, not flukes. It seemed like the losses in the starting rotation weren’t going to be all that bad, especially with the way newly acquired Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon began the year.
Enter May: The Greene-Simon ship crashes back to Earth.
Enter June: Team ERA of 4.43, 26th in all of baseball.
Enter July: Miguel Cabrera, one of baseball’s best hitters, goes down for six weeks.
Justin Verlander has failed to return to his old self, Brad Ausmus is clearly a second-year manager, Anibal Sanchez is playing Jekyll and Hyde, and there are really no reliable bullpen arms outside of Alex Wilson.
Dombrowski’s firing is almost as hard to understand as why Al Avila’s last name is pronounced AH-vuh-luh and his son’s is pronounced Uh-VEE-luh.
One of more successful general managers of the last decade doesn’t get fired a day after the trade deadline unless there’s something behind the scenes beat writers don’t have access to. The milk has been spilled, and according to new GM Al Avila (pronounced AH-vuh-luh) the Tigers are looking to win “this year.”
Four-and-a-half games out of a wild card spot and eleven back of the Royals in the AL Central doesn’t paint the picture of a team making a push “this year.”
The most recent sign of trouble came Friday night when notorious hot-dog Jose Iglesias shoved catcher James McCann after being called out for not diving on a ball up the middle. Hotter heads prevail? Ausmus’ comments on the dust-up were nothing short of soft: “I don’t really have a response to it. I mean, maybe he subscribes to the theory there’s no bad press.”
Maybe Ausmus subscribes to the theory that his rookies should do the managing for him. At the very least, Ausmus could have publicly stated that it was not McCann’s position to coach Iglesias.
The attention of Tigers fans is no longer on winning the division, and with any losing team, all of the flaws are magnified. The talk around town is not winning five division titles in a row, it’s on whether Ausmus is capable of managing a Major League team, and whether Verlander is toast or not.
The 2015 Detroit Tigers are running out of time, and their only hopes lie in the return of Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander’s fate, and whether the bullpen can magically straighten itself out.
All’s well that ends in fourth or fifth place in the division?
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