The Detroit Tigers are under .500. I'm writing this in the wee hours of the morning on July 20, and the Detroit Tigers, four-time AL Central champions and preseason picks by many to win a fifth division title -- if not the World Series -- are under .500. They haven't been this far out of first place since 2010. Not-so-coincidentally, that was also the last time they did not make the playoffs.
Will they beat the odds and play in October this year? In past years, they have turned on the afterburners in the second half. We're only three games removed from the All-Star break in 2015, but their hopes are fading. The fanbase's frustration has seemingly boiled over onto the field. If things seem bleak, it's because they are. This isn't a call to give up or stop watching. Nor is it a troop-rallying speech about how they're thisclose to putting together a run.
Things aren't bad, by any means. Anyone who followed this team prior to the 2006 season knows what things look like when they go bad. This Tigers team still has plenty of exciting talent. But without enough depth around that talent -- particularly on the pitching side of things, if this is the Justin Verlander we're getting -- they don't look like the team capable of putting together the kind of run we've seen over the past four years.
Will they buy or sell at the trade deadline? Will they try to re-sign David Price or Yoenis Cespedes? Will Dave Dombrowski and Brad Ausmus be back in 2016? These are all questions that may or may not be answered in the coming weeks and months. Things aren't bad in Tigers land, but they aren't good either. They're just... weird.
Reliable reliever Blaine Hardy relishes being on call - The Detroit News, Chris McCosky
Blaine Hardy don't need no stinkin' bullpen roles.
Tigers’ Anthony Gose banishes June batting swoon - Detroit Free Press, George Sipple
One thing Brad Ausmus deserves credit for: both Ian Kinsler and Anthony Gose have started hitting since getting shuffled around the lineup.
Ten key players to watch in the second half - ESPN SweetSpot, David Schoenfield
Justin Verlander is the first player listed and... well, that hasn't started well.
Royals win 4-1 on Duffy's gem, home runs by Cain, Orlando - Royals Review, J.K. Ward
The Royals won again because of course they did.
Cleveland Indians walk their way to gift-wrapped victory over Cincinnati Reds - Let's Go Tribe, Andrew Kinsman
The Tribe took two of three from Cincinnati this weekend and are now one game behind Detroit.
Game #94: A's blast out of the cellar, 14-1 - Athletics Nation, Duncan Morrow
After getting the snot pounded out of them yesterday, the Twins are now six games back of the Royals in the AL Central.
Royals 4, White Sox 1: Series loss sets course for second half - South Side Sox, Jim Margalus
If you think Tigers fans are an unhappy bunch right now, steer clear of the White Sox contingent.
Contact-Score Leaders and Laggards at the Break - FanGraphs, Tony Blengino
"One player has a higher hard-contact percentage than Trout in the AL this season, and it’s [J.D.] Martinez."
Bryce Harper frustrated by Bill Miller’s strike zone - The Washington Post, Chelsea Janes
Bryce Harper on Zack Greinke: "When you're getting 5 to 6 inches off the plate, you better win the game." Them's fightin' words (or jog in from the bullpen as the benches empty words, more accurately).