Welcome to the latest installment of Bless You Boys' attempt to track the general opinion towards Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. We run an approval poll about once a month, asking fans one simple question: Do you approve of the work Ausmus has done?
The last time we checked in, the Tigers were coming off a month that featured consecutive streaks of 1-11, 8-1, and 1-6. They're still a bit up and down, but a solid June kept them in the hunt on Independence Day. After a long weekend of grilled meats, explosives, and hopefully some baseball, it's time to reflect on what you think of the Tigers' skipper.
Since our last poll the Tigers are 20-12, and they've done a nice job of chipping away the damage done by the rough stretch in early May. They now sit at 44-39 on the season, one game out of a wild card spot, and six-and-a-half games behind the division leaders.
Over the past two weeks, the Tigers are 10-0 against teams that aren't the Cleveland Indians. Unfortunately, they're 0-4 against teams that are the Cleveland Indians, and that's kind of a big deal, considering the Indians are in first place. The Tribe are also coming off a ridiculous 22-6 month that featured a 14-game win streak and saw them jump from the third-best record in the AL Central to the second-best record in the entire American League.
Despite a solid month in Detroit, there are still some cloudy skies on the horizon. They have been playing (and winning) without J.D. Martinez for nearly two and a half weeks, but the injury bug struck again on Monday, when the team placed both Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Norris on the disabled list.
The Tigeres have already announced that Anibal Sanchez will start instead of Zimmermann on Tuesday. It will be interesting to see how Ausmus responds to the rash of injuries, as well as how he chooses to position his remaining starters around the All-Star break. Martinez, Zimmermann, and Norris may all be set to return around the end of the month (if not sooner) and the Tigers must keep their heads above water until then.
Last season the Tigers sat on a .500 record in late July, three games out of a wild card spot. All reports indicated that they intended to trade for major-league talent at the deadline and make a run for the playoffs. But a brutal string of losses in the week prior to the trade deadline forced them into sell mode.
They are in a better position at the moment, but they can't afford to lose any ground while key players recover. If they want to prevent history from repeating itself, they need to find a way to win some games over the next few weeks. This is a big test for Ausmus.