The last two weeks have not been kind to the Detroit Tigers. On the morning of Monday, August 8, the Tigers were just two games behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central and a half game ahead of the Boston Red Sox in the AL Wild Card race. Thirteen games later, they are seven games back in the division and 2 1⁄2 behind in the Wild Card.
Fortunately, their luck might be starting to turn around. A slew of injuries — not a lack of doubles, Mr. Sharp — resulted in a 4-9 record over the last two weeks, including series sweeps against Seattle and Kansas City. The Tigers benefitted from the return of Cameron Maybin on Sunday, and others aren’t far behind. Jose Iglesias is set to begin a rehab assignment this week, while Jordan Zimmermann threw a simulated game on Sunday. Mike Pelfrey should throw a simulated game later this week.
While Nick Castellanos is still a ways away from returning, the Tigers may get an offensive boost from a suddenly hot Justin Upton. His offensive outburst on Sunday surprised just about everyone...
Farrell: "We’re sitting there in a 2-0 ballgame and then all of the sudden it’s the Upton show at that point."— Kyle Beery (@BeeryK) August 21, 2016
...but it just may be the spark this offense needs to get going again.
I suddenly don’t feel bad about this
The Tigers are using their off day on Monday to juggle their starting rotation, once again giving Michael Fulmer an extended rest (something he may need after his last start against the Red Sox). According to Brad Ausmus, the Tigers will use Anibal Sanchez, Matt Boyd, and Daniel Norris against the Twins, with Justin Verlander starting on Friday against the Angels.
Now, if only the bullpen would shape up...
Mookie Betts is really, really good
The Tigers held Betts to just four singles in 18 plate appearances this weekend, which is much more than we can say for the rest of baseball. Betts is one of six position players to be worth at least 6.0 fWAR this season, and is hitting .314/.355/.561 with 28 home runs. He swings like Andrew McCutchen, and because of this, opposing pitchers are staying away from him as much as possible.
Let’s watch that Justin Upton home run again
Shall we? Yes, we shall.
That is what 120-plus games of frustration looks like in one swing.
The Diamondbacks are a mess and a half
Everyone in the baseball world laughed when the Arizona Diamondbacks eviscerated their farm system for Shelby Miller this offseason. GM Dave Stewart tried to say “no, you’re wrong” when the computers predicted the D-Backs would be a bad team, but oh hey look: they’re a bad team (and they’re selling their stadium).
It gets worse, though. ESPN’s Keith Law pointed out more follies that have happened behind closed doors, including Stewart attempting to make trades that are against baseball rules. As such, D-Backs ownership might be saying “it’s not you... actually, yes, it’s you” to Stewart and Chief Baseball Officer Tony LaRussa in the near future. Meanwhile, LaRussa and Stewart remain blissfully unaware as to how incompetent they are.
Every person in the game that I talked to on the night of the deal said that the trade was insane. https://t.co/Tz7q7VgGtH— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) August 22, 2016
At least they’re not fighting in the clubhouse
Because the Oakland A’s are. Rumored clubhouse pest Danny Valencia apparently injured teammate Billy Butler in an altercation over the weekend, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (if you can’t read that, check out the details here). Butler was held out of a game due to nausea and vomiting, which Slusser notes could be due to a potential concussion. Our friends at Athletics Nation are not amused.
...the dispute sounds exactly as dumb as you feared. To summarize, Butler narced on Valencia to an “equipment representative” that Valencia wasn’t using the cleats Valencia said he was using. To which I say, this sounds so stupid.