The Tigers come to town tonight to start a 3 game series.
The Tigers 60-66 heading into the series, tied for 3rd in the AL Central, 17 games back of the Royals. On offense they are averaging 4.45 runs per game, 5th in the AL.
On defense, they are second worst in the league in runs allowed, at 4.83 runs allowed per game, just slightly better than the Red Sox.
I sent off some questions to Rob Rogacki, manager of Bless You Boys, SB Nation's Tigers' blog and he was kind enough to answer them.
Blue Jays fans are thrilled with David Price, what do Tigers fans think about the return they got for him? What's Daniel Norris' injury? When will he be back?
The decision to sell at the trade deadline caught many Tigers fans by surprise, but the returns they got for Price, Yoenis Cespedes, and Joakim Soria only cemented Dave Dombrowski's legacy as one of the best crunch-time executives in the game of baseball. The Price trade, in particular, was well received. The Tigers haven't had a prospect ranked as highly as Daniel Norris since righthander Jacob Turner, who was used to acquire Anibal Sanchez in 2012. Norris has showed flashes of his lofty potential in four starts with the Tigers, including a stellar debut against Baltimore on August 2.
Unfortunately, we didn't get to enjoy our shiny new toy for long. Norris suffered an oblique injury against the Chicago Cubs on August 19 -- a game in which he hit a three-run homer to dead center in his first professional at-bat -- and will be out for at least four weeks. There is a good chance that he will not pitch for the rest of the season, and if he does, it will likely be in a relief role during the final weeks of the season. The silver lining to this injury is that the Tigers were looking to limit Norris' innings anyway, and his injury will not require surgery.
Speaking of former Blue Jays....we have very much enjoyed Devon Travis (when he's been healthy), what do you guys think of Anthony Gose?
Anthony Gose looked nearly every bit as good as Travis during the first six weeks of the season, batting .354/.396/.515 with seven doubles and six stolen bases. He was able to maintain an OPS near .800 into the early part of June, and was playing a rangy center field, which comes in handy at Comerica Park. His BABIP was above .400, so we expected some regression, but we've seen speedy outfielders maintain high BABIP figures before -- including Austin Jackson, Gose's predecessor in center.
Instead, the wheels have all but come off. Gose has a .270 on-base percentage and .568 OPS since June 1, and looks absolutely lost at the plate against left-handed pitching. The Yoenis Cespedes trade has turned Gose into more of a full-time center fielder, and his flaws are quickly being exposed. His numbers are still decent against righties, but advanced metrics don't seem to like his defense very much. I'm cautiously optimistic that he will continue to improve in these areas going forward, but there's no way he should be playing against left-handed starters in 2016.
Justin Verlander came very close to a no-hitter Wednesday, did you think he still had that sort of game in him? Does it give you a better feeling about the next 4 years of his contract?
Verlander's near-no-no didn't so much answer the question lingering in the air -- Is Verlander back? -- but rather added an exclamation point at the end. Those that were paying close attention noticed that Verlander had a string of strong outings leading up to Wednesday's gem. In his last eight starts, Verlander had a 2.65 ERA and 2.69 FIP, numbers that would look even better if not for a not-as-bad-as-it-looks seven-run outing against Baltimore. FanGraphs' Jeff Sullivan picked up on it, noting an increase in swinging strikes and lazy fly ball outs despite the ever-declining fastball velocity. Assuming this is close to the Verlander we see for the rest of the season, it alleviates a ton of fears many had about the next four years of his contract.
Who do you see the Tigers calling up when rosters expand in September? Anyone you are really interested in?
The Tigers have bolstered their minor league system with a solid draft and the trades at this year's non-waiver trade deadline, but this is still a very thin system, especially in the upper levels. There shouldn't be any notable names recalled on September 1, save for boom-or-bust outfielder Steven Moya. Blessed with 80-grade raw power and 20-grade plate discipline, Moya has plus potential overall. He fields his position well and is surprisingly athletic for a 6'7", 260-pound man-child. However, his approach at the plate needs a serious overhaul and is the reason why such a raw talent hasn't appeared on any prospect lists. The current belief is that major league pitchers will carve him up without difficulty, but it would be nice to see the Tigers give him a shot now that they are out of the playoff race.
What are you timeline for the Tigers getting back into playoffs, are they a few years away or will they be back in the race next year?
The goal is for the Tigers to return to contention next season, but there are a lot of problems that need to be addressed first. Their rotation is a huge question mark, though a resurgent Verlander is a major addition before the offseason even begins. The outfield, save for J.D. Martinez, is also a bit of a mess now without Cespedes. And the bullpen? ...Yeah.
Adding to the confusion surrounding this offseason is the change in front office structure. Former No. 2 man Al Avila has taken over for Dave Dombrowski and many are not sure what to expect. The 57-year-old Avila is a baseball lifer -- his dad, Ralph Avila, is a longtime Dodgers scout -- and has already vowed to bring more sabermetric analysis to an organization that has sorely lacked it, to say the least. This bodes well for the future, one would think, but it remains to be seen if he can retool the roster as necessary to get them back into the hunt in 2016.
What do you think of Dave Dombrowski leaving? Is he a huge loss? Does it mean that Mike Ilitch wants to get his hands on the baseball decisions more? Who takes over for him?
While I'm cautiously excited to see what Avila's sabermetric slant brings to the Tigers, there's no way to spin the loss of Dave Dombrowski as an overall positive. Dombrowski has proven time and again to be one of the very best executives in the game, and there's a reason his call list was a mile long the moment the Tigers let him go. Sure, he had his flaws -- again, this bullpen business... -- but he brought on the winningest era of Tigers history despite not winning a world championship. The postseason had become an afterthought in Detroit prior to this season, something that no other GM in Tigers history can claim.
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