Something’s gotta give.
That’s the bottom line when it comes to what the Tigers are seeing out of their pitching roster. For the sixth game in a row — not counting the split-squad win against the Blue Jays on March 1st — Detroit has lost, and lost big. The scores are almost as ugly as the pitches yielding the runs. Across the board, with few exceptions, the Tigers pitchers are being taken for a ride.
It’s one thing to say that it’s only spring training, and the games don’t matter, but in a sense that’s not true for these players. There is only a limited amount of room on the team for pitchers, and in four weeks time many of the names on these spring training rosters will be getting axed. Al Avila has promised “we’ll take our 12 best pitchers” when they start the season. Right now, with very few exceptions, it’s looking like a best-of-the-worst scenario for Detroit.
Brad Ausmus, who along with pitching coach Rich Dubee, had spoken to the pitchers last week in hopes of course correcting them, is obviously feeling the sting of disappointment. He commented on it to the media after Monday’s game, in which the Tigers fell to the Orioles 7-2. Six of those runs were on Mike Pelfrey’s fast-declining record, part of an abysmal third inning which saw the Tigers go through three pitchers.
Brad Ausmus: "The way we’ve pitched has been awful."— Scott DeCamp (@ScottDeCamp) March 6, 2017
More Ausmus: "It’s spring, a lot of the guys are clearly not in midseason form, but we’ve got to pitch better than this."— Scott DeCamp (@ScottDeCamp) March 6, 2017
Ausmus isn’t mincing words, and nor should he. It’s apparent to anyone paying attention that Tigers pitchers are struggling, especially Pelfrey and Anibal Sanchez, both of whom arrived in Lakeland hoping to prove they have what it takes for the fifth starter position.
There are still several weeks of spring training left, and it’s always important to remember that the games themselves have no bearing on the coming season. But for a pitching staff that had suffered injuries and disappointments throughout the 2016 season it’s not the start to spring fans or management were hoping to see. Time will tell who will be making the journey north it Opening Day in Chicago come April.