As we enter the dog days of summer watching the Detroit Tigers free-fall to the bottom of the baseball standings, there has not been a lot of good news for the fans. The few bright spots that exist are either trade bait or at least a year away from seeing the big leagues. Those are facts.
That being said, there still are good reasons to pay attention to this team and the organization as a whole regardless of the general sentiment towards the front office. Matthew Boyd has been a special pitcher so far this season, pitching reinforcements in the form of prospects may be on their way, and 2019 first round draft pick Riley Greene got off to a hot start.
Matthew Boyd has been one of the brightest spots for the Tigers this season. Despite a few bumps in the road in recent games, he is still motoring on and holding down the ace role at the top of the rotation. However, he seems to be struggling against good teams. Why is that?
The answer seems simple. He goes into every start as one of the pitchers who receives the least run support and is backed by one of the worst bullpens in the Major Leagues.
This article from Forbes discusses the matter, and concludes that the primary issue is lack of run support. His numbers — and likely trade value, as well — took a hit in June, though he still maintained a solid xFIP 3.20. But even when he’s on, he is working with razor-thin margins when it comes to the difference between winning and losing a game. And that can make things more difficult than necessary on a starting pitcher.
Tigers eye pitching prospects as reinforcements
The injury bug has bitten the Tigers quite severely this season, especially among starting pitchers. So far, they have managed to get by with a four-man rotation and a spot fifth starter, albeit with suboptimal results. With some of the more seasoned prospects beginning to shake off their own injuries, they may be getting some playing time under the bright lights of Comerica Park sooner than later.
Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser are the most qualified candidates for the imminent promotion, as they have both shown positive signs in their game when they are not sidelined. But the key for them is to stay healthy; if they do, they will fulfill their major league dreams sometime this summer. Gregory Soto has already been called up, though his production has been seriously — though not unsurprisingly — underwhelming in his short 17 2⁄3 innings thus far.
The likes of Matt Manning and Alex Faedo, however, are very unlikely to get their cup of coffee. The aforementioned Burrows and Funkhouser will need to be added to the 40-man roster to protect them from the next Rule 5 draft, while Manning and Faedo still have some time left on their clocks. Unless something catastrophic occurs, the latter two will remain in the minors for the rest of 2019.
The Toledo Grind
Cody Stavenhaven of The Athletic takes a look into life with the Toledo Mud Hens in this article. From the rigors of the daily grind to the ebb and flow of success and failure, the highest level of minor league baseball has no shortage of challenges.
Daz Cameron in particular spoke about how he deals with failure. Despite a blistering hot spring training performance, his bat has failed to materialize consistently at the Triple-A level. He is now leaning on his experience with earlier struggles to overcome these last hurdles heading up to the Major League. He is finally learning how to fail.
The article also includes Jake Rogers’ and Kyle Funkhouser’s accounts on how they have dealt with their respective lives in Toledo. With his already polished glove, Rogers’ biggest concern has been elevating his offense and working on consistency with the bat. For Funkhouser, overcoming injuries has been the main narrative.
Riley Greene is a monster
The Tigers’ first round selection in the 2019 draft started with a bang in Lakeland in his very first professional game. He went 4-5 with a single, a double, a home run, a ground out, and another home run, in that order. Below is a video of his last dinger — a prodigious shot off the first pitch.
Here's an open-faced look at @Greene21Riley's second home run today, a MONSTER shot that probably ended up in the lake behind the field. Absolute no-doubter off the first pitch. #MotorOn pic.twitter.com/n3YGrl5Yzb— Adam Dubbin (@AdamDubbin) June 25, 2019
The best of Tigers Twitter
You might not be on the social media service, but this is the best thread you will read relating to the Tigers. Here is the thread in HTML form in case you are not on Twitter.
Well, I hope you guys want to read a 40-tweet thread about Matthew Boyd and his trade value, because here it comes. (Apparently you can only string 25 tweets together, but I’m a monster and decided to make two mega threads).— Chris Brown (@ChrisBrown0914) June 25, 2019
Around the horn
Here’s FanGraphs’ list of top international free agents. The Milwaukee Brewers may be interested in Matthew Boyd. The Minnesota Twins reportedly have a “strong interest” in Madison Bumgarner. Carlos Torres jumps from the Tigers to the Twins. The University of Michigan Wolverines keep it loose going into the finale of the College World Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers to extend protective netting after Cody Bellinger’s foul ball strikes a fan.