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Detroit Tigers News: Evaluating the Tigers after 20 games

An off-day look at Mike Gerber’s first game, the upcoming Pirates series, and other notable baseball news.

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at Detroit Tigers Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers sit at the 20 game mark, which seems as good a time as any to step back and evaluate what this team is at this point. On Saturday, the Tigers pounded the visiting Kansas City Royals. They had just come off a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles and had already taken two games in a four game set against the Royals. The team was one game away from reaching the .500 mark. This had a lot of folks feeling optimistic, myself included.

Then Sunday rolled around. The bullpen farted away a winnable game and we find ourselves looking at a team that, despite a 5-3 homestand, is two games under .500 and split a home series against a truly terrible baseball team in the Royals.

Here’s my 20 game takeaway; this team is going to have enough moments of young guys and rejuvenated veterans coming together to win games to make the season fun. But let’s not kid ourselves, this is not a good baseball team.

Gerber’s Big Day

Outfielder Mike Gerber got the opportunity to make his major league debut when he was called up as the extra man for Friday’s doubleheader. He didn’t get the start, unfortunately, but did get the opportunity to play when he was brought in to pinch run. George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press has a good article about Gerber’s journey to his first major league appearance, and what that day meant to him and his family. Gerber is a good guy, and someone I think we’re going to see a decent amount of in the next few years.

Miguel Cabrera, the player Gerber came in to pinch run for, made the day even more memorable for Gerber by giving him an autographed baseball and bat from the game. Cabrera seems to be a believer in Gerber, and the moment gave Cabrera an opportunity to opine on his experience being called up and playing in his early years.

Going National

After Monday’s off day, the Tigers open up a three game series in Pittsburgh. The Pirates being a National League squad makes things a little interesting for the Tigers, as the current roster is quite pitcher heavy and very light on bench players. With Victor Martinez basically incapable of playing in the field, the Tigers are left with three usable bench players. As Chris McCosky of The Detroit News writes, manager Ron Gardenhire would love to bring someone up to offer a little extra help over the three game stretch, but doesn’t realistically expect that to happen. It should be fun watching Gardenhire try to navigate this series with limited resources.

The kids are alright

If you’re interested in what’s happening in the farm system here are some quick hits:

The need for speed

Daniel Norris performed well in his first start on Friday, but his velocity (or the lack thereof) continues to be an issue. Topping out around 90 miles per hour doesn’t seem to have Norris too concerned. He says this is something he experiences every year, and that the velocity will return. For now, he’s pleased with how effective he was able to be in his first start, and is focused on improving with every opportunity.

Pitch, please!

San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set an interesting MLB record on Sunday when he battled Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jaime Barria to a 21 pitch at-bat. Unfortunately for Belt, it ended in a lineout.

Around the horn

Has baseball’s pine tar problem gotten worse? Sean Manaea’s no-hitter silenced the bats of baseball’s best team. The disgrace of minor league baseball. Portland is steeped in baseball history.

Baseball is awesome

I know this is two weeks in a row of Big Sexy for me, but as long as he continues to do amazing things like beat Dee Gordon to first base, I’m going to continue to be gleefully entertained by it.