I spent today down at Comerica Park watching the Tigers play the Yankees. Besides being a good match up, and another must win, the game featured another strong outing by the Tigers bullpen. At the beginning of the season this was a rare sight and widely thought to be the only chink in the teams armor. This didn’t turn out to be the case though the apparent turn around in the bullpen could be the spark needed to turn the team around; here’s why.
The starting rotation, while banged up, is talented enough to win. Detroit had one of the most talented and successful rotations in 2006 and carried over the same rotation into this year. They haven’t replicated the success of last year but still have the ability to keep the team in the thick of it.
Having the talent obviously doesn’t mean the team will win but it sure helps. There is no question that it is time for Jeremy Bonderman and Justin Verlander, in particular, to step up and lead this team to some wins. The margin for error is near-zero at this point.
The Tiger offense still packs a punch. We saw it today early on then saw it drop off, but the team has power. Magglio Ordonez isn’t showing signs of slowing down. Curtis Granderson has seemingly gotten his engines started again. Placido Polanco, while taking a bit of a dip, is still putting the ball in play and making pitchers work. Carlos Guillen has found a sudden stroke of power. Marcus Thames has stepped up in ways I didn’t expect and will be counted on to fill in the huge shoes of Gary Sheffield.
I’m not necessarily trying to put a positive spin on everything. There are major challenges going into the last month but the bullpen being stitched together can provide the team with some needed late-inning holds when the starters hand over a lead or hold down an opposing team to give the team a chance for a late inning rally. Both are traits of a winning team.