Tigers Enter Season’s Second Half at The Top with Indians Nipping on Their Heels
The second half of the MLB season is ready to resume and the Detroit Tigers (52-42) will enter it at the top of the AL Central. They’re ahead of the Cleveland Indians by 1 1/2 games and will keep their eye on winning another AL pennant this year.
The Tigers sit at 3 to 1 to do so.
Rewind to this last time season and the Tigers sat in third place and 3 1/2 games from the top.
From their first half of the season, the team is on pace for a 90-game win season. Tigers manager Jim Leyland recently said of the season half via the Associated Press, “I think we’ve hung in there. I truly think that’s what’s going to decide who wins — the team that’s the toughest the second half, can grind it out on a daily basis, stay tough day in and day out, I think that’s the team that’s going to win.”
Contributors to the Tigers first-place standing has again been Miguel Cabrera. After last season’s Triple Crown season, there been no fall of from production as he’s hitting well (.365) and has knocked out 30 home runs with 95 RBIs. Will he get the AL MVP award?
Cabrera is 3 to 2 to do so.
Then there’s his teammate’s pitching, righty Max Scherzer (13-1). At the All-Star game, he was the AL’s starting pitcher and didn’t waste the opportunity to showcase his talent. In his one inning of pitching, Scherzer made the most of it, throwing a perfect 12-pitch frame.
With his 13-0 start this season, he was the first pitcher to do so since Roger Clemens back in 1986 with his 14-0 start. And he was very humble about it.
Righty Justin Verlander’s pitching hasn’t been too shabby as he is 10-6 with a 3.50 ERA. He thinks the team will only get better and said via AP, “We have a lot of veteran guys that know how to prepare for a long season, and that’s why I think you see us play well in the second half. I don’t think we’ve even shown our potential yet.”
Yes, there is room for improvement for the Tigers and this includes their bullpen. Rookie Bruce Rondon hasn’t been the closer the team envisioned and veteran Jose Valverde hasn’t fare well either. Joaquin Benoit had been able to convert his eighth save opportunities (1.64 ERA) but his fellow pitchers, relievers Al Alburquerque and Phil Coke remain challenged.
Will the team make some bullpen trades by the July 31 deadline?
The team will get back to the field on Friday night with a three-game series against the Kansas City Chiefs (43-49). The team sits eight games behind the Tigers. Game 1 will put Tigers righty Anibal Sanchez (7-6) on the mound against the Royals righty Ervin Santana (5-6).
The Tigers will get another win (-131, 8.5 o/u).
Then there’s the Indians…
Sitting 1 1/2 games behind the Tigers, the Indians are looking to change this. In the second half, they’ll look to have more consistency after the first half’s volatile win and loss swings. They’ll also look to keep their four-game win streak alive.
Pitching could be improved, also in the bullpen and the team will look for more offense, including improved play from Nick Swisher, Asdrubal Cabrera and Mark Reynolds. Fortunately for the Indians, Reynolds historically shines in August: in his six-year career, he combined has 42 homers with 107 RBIs.
The team’s All-Star pitcher righty Justin Masterson (10-7) said of his team via Cleveland.com, “We’ve had a pretty good first half. We had a lot of fun with it, but what we want to do is continue to get better.”
The Indians sit at 12 to 1 to win this year’s AL pennant.
They will return to action on Friday against the Minnesota Twins (39-53).
Indians lefty Scott Kazmir (5-4) will take the mound against Twins righty Mike Pelfrey (4-7).
Cleveland gets another win (-117, 9 o/u).