Is it me or did the Tigers' defense actually look passable? As often mentioned by Matthew B. Mowery on Twitter, the Tigers had a rather large discrepancy between double plays hit into and double plays turned. That's because the rather poor defense just wasn't turning many and ranked near the bottom of baseball. After turning two double plays last Sunday in Cincinnati, Detroit continued the trend this week by turning seven DPs in six games, including five in the first two series against the Rockies. We saw a couple of nice plays by the middle infielders, Miguel Cabrera throwing a batter out from his knees, Ryan Raburn robbing home runs in left field. The Tigers defense will never be confused for being good, but at least -- eye test, anyway -- it looked better than it had been. And, by the way, replays showed those two errors credited to Jhonny Peralta against the Cubs should have both been outs.
The return of Doug Fister is a huge boost. That's stating the obvious, but sometimes the obvious has to be stated. Fister has been on the disabled list for about seven weeks this season -- and the season is only about 11 weeks old. During his seven starts, he has a 2.68 ERA. He has quality starts (at least 6 innings pitched, three or fewer runs allowed) 71 percent of the time. So far this season that hasn't added up to a lot of wins, curiously enough. He didn't always get the run support he needed, and the Tigers are 2-5 in games he started. But he's been the team's second most effective pitcher ever since the day he put on the Tigers' jersey after being acquired from Seattle last year. He's been much more effective than either of the players who filled in for him, Casey Crosby (9.49 ERA) and Adam Wilk (8.48 ERA), who combined to go 1-5 in his absence. If he's finally healthy and available the rest of the year, it's going to result in more wins than losses.
Max Scherzer might be better than you think. I am always amazed at the guff Scherzer takes. I understand he's not as consistent as some would like. I understand he doesn't have the best looking ERA on the team either (5.17). But look a bit deeper at the numbers. He is second in the AL in strikeouts with 100 after a 12 K performance on Sunday. He had a season-high 15 against the Pirates in May. A stat provided by the Tigers on Sunday, Scherzer has had nine-or-more strikeouts in six games this season, giving him more 9 K games than any other pitcher. He has obviously struggled in a couple of games, but he also has seven quality starts, which places him second only to Verlander on the team. Scherzer has allowed three-or-fewer runs nine times, and he's allowed more than three runs just once in his past six starts. Scherzer can certainly be frustrating when you see just how much he can dominate in a given game only to watch him lay the occasional egg. But just remember, they're only occasional eggs. Maybe he'll never be the ace or No. 2 starter he was once projected to be, but if he can find a way to limit the damage on days when he doesn't have it, he can still be pretty good.
Some people need to control their emotions. Maybe I'm just overly influenced by what I see on the Internet or what gets texted or asked of me. I don't know. But the Tigers, although showing a few obvious flaws, have looked pretty good on most nights in June. A couple of times their weaknesses cost them, but the trend has been going in the right direction. Players are getting on track. Some injured players are returning to the team or due back soon. The other teams in the division are not exactly flawless either. But every loss is treated like it's the straw that broke the Tigers' backs. Detroit is 7-3 in the past 10 and has won three series in a row. They're three games out of first place. Sure, this isn't sticking to the script written up even before spring training. But losses aren't the end of the season, and they shouldn't be treated like the end of the world. Emotional whiplash gets tiresome fast.