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Detroit Tigers News: Yes, the Tigers are almost a .500 baseball team

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A look at the almost .500 Tigers with the return of Jordan Zimmermann, and the progress of Francisco Liriano.

Detroit Tigers v Pittsburgh Pirates
When you didn’t know a human being could hit a ball that far
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

It’s yet another Monday in mid-June, and despite all my best efforts to remain grounded in realism, this Detroit Tigers team has begun to tug ever so gently at my heart strings. They hover just a game shy of the .500 mark, and 2 12 games out of first place in the American League Central.

After a day off on Monday, the Tigers enter interleague play against a team as terrible as the chili their city is known for in the Cincinnati Reds. A strong showing against the Reds will put Detroit in a pretty good spot. While I’m still not allowing myself to jump into the pool of belief in this Tigers team being good, let’s say I have some toes in the water, and it feels pretty good.

The return of Zimmermann

Despite the complete derailment that occurred in the fifth inning on Saturday, the Tigers seem to be pretty pleased with the return of Jordan Zimmermann. Pitching coach Chris Bosio said he thought Zimmermann was “outstanding” in his first outing back, and everyone seems to think a lot of what happened to him in the fifth could have been avoided by catcher Grayson Greiner or Zimmermann adjusting to the change in approach the White Sox batters started taking at the outset of that inning.

Going with six?

Just a handful of days ago, manager Ron Gardenhire was adamant that a six-man rotation was out of the question. But, with another strong outing on Sunday, Blaine Hardy is forcing Gardenhire to reconsider the possibility. The original idea was that Hardy would be moved out to bolster the bullpen once Francisco Liriano and Jordan Zimmermann returned from the disabled list, but with each consecutive outing Hardy is challenging that assumption. I was skeptical of Hardy as a starter, but until he proves he shouldn’t be there you can consider me a Blainiac — the one and only acceptable name for Blaine Hardy fans — all the way.

Lirian-oh no

Francisco Liriano made a rehab start with Toledo on Sunday. Let’s just say the results were a bit lackluster. Liriano came out and worked a clean first inning. After that, he got hammered, hard and often. He ended his day giving up eight runs on 11 hits over four innings. There’s no official word on what the next step in the process is for Liriano, but my guess would be that we see at least one more rehab start before he’s back with the big club.

Where Wilson fits in

This feels kinda weird to say, but here goes: Alex Wilson might be having some trouble breaking back into the bullpen since coming off the disabled list. In Wilson’s absence, Louis Coleman grabbed the seventh inning spot and hasn’t let go, Joe Jimenez and his next-level filthiness has the eighth locked down, and everybody knows who gets the ninth.

It’s weird, but Wilson is a man without a role — if you believe in that sort of thing, which you kind of have to because Ron Gardenhire believes in it, and until you change his mind it’s going to be a thing whether you like it or not (which you probably don’t). Wilson continues to see opportunities here and there and is doing well when called upon, which is all you can ask for. Wouldn’t it be odd to have a competent bullpen?

Maybe not McCann’t, but certainly McShouldn’t

A weird thing happened on Friday night. James McCann, he of two career steals, decided to try to steal home. Leonys Martin was on first at the time, and was given the steal sign. When the throw went to second to make an attempt on Martin, McCann was off for home like a herd of turtles, and was easily thrown out by Tim Anderson. There has been a refreshing emphasis on aggressive base running this year, but this seemed a bit much.

Joe Church

It’s been a pretty good season so far for Jose Iglesias. He’s playing not terrible offense while continuing his stellar defense, and on Friday — 10 years after defecting from Cuba — he became a citizen of the United States of America. Welcome aboard, Jose, we’re happy to have you.

The return of Perez

Hey, remember that Franklin Perez kid? The organization’s preseason No. 1 prospect is due to return within a matter of weeks. That’s something to get excited about. Come and check out the timetable on his return along with a variety of dudes across the minor league system.

Don Kelly is awesome

Allow yourself to click through to this Twitter thread and remind yourself of the on-field greatness of Don Kelly. As you watch these clips, know that somewhere Mr. Kelly is cleaning out the gutters on his neighbor Ethel’s house just because it needed to be done.

Around the horn

Anibal Sanchez is doing well with the Braves. Envisioning a Mike Trout breakout. WTF Phil Mickelson? Should Father’s Day be the official holiday of Major League Baseball?