Happy Monday, and welcome to the day after the first series win over the Cleveland Indians since 2018. Twenty games of rope-a-dope baseball lured the Indians into a false sense of security that Detroit was poised to exploit. Just like they planned it. The club kicks off a home stand Monday evening when the Chicago Cubs come to town or a three game tilt. Here’s some stuff to read while you await first pitch.
Heading into the weekend series against the Cleveland Indians — one that if it went as bad as the previous handful of games would lead to a record tying 23 straight losses to the same team — Miguel Cabrera, Austin Romine and Cameron Maybin gathered the troops for the time honored tradition of any club on the skids: holding a team meeting. It was a simple message to “keep playing hard.”
“Pick each other up, don’t feel down on yourselves and have somebody’s back. ... You just got to believe it, and I think that really kickstarted us tonight.”
That was a quote from Michael Fulmer after the team rallied to pull out a win after a sluggish start in the first game of the series. Two days later, Detroit leaves Cleveland with a series win and looks like a team that can play some baseball. Hopefully that holds up.
Niko Goodrum’s two for three Sunday with a home run was a promising sign. Could it be an indication that he’s starting to pull out of a dismal slump that has plagued him for much of the early going of the 2020 season?
After a disappointing outing on Friday night, hitting coach Joe Vavra reluctantly made the decision to see if some mid-season swing adjustments might be helpful. Vavra took some time to analyze video of Goodrum’s at bats and noted Goodrum chasing some high pitches that he could’t catch up with. Vavra knows a major overhaul isn’t a good idea in the middle of a season, and the hope was to make some minor adjustments to see if that could help him improve. If Goodrum’s Sunday performance is any indication, those adjustments may have worked.
It looks like Matthew Boyd may have finally turned on corner on the season following his best start of the season on Saturday. Relying much less on his slider — which he acknowledged he had become a little too dependent on — and leaning more toward the changeup Boyd has shown some promising improvement over his last two starts.
During the Saturday evening radio broadcast Chris McCosky noted that Boyd had also been battling an injury of some sort early in the season. Maybe what we are seeing is a healthy Matthew Boyd utilizing a better pitch selection. It’s hard to say, but it seems like he’s trending in the right direction.
Worries for Miggy?
It’s been a frustrating and deceiving season for Miguel Cabrera. He’s been hitting the ball hard — his exit velocity and hard hit percentage are near the top of the league — and his expected batting average isn’t earth shattering, but at .276 it’s worlds better than where he sits currently at .181. By all accounts, there’s nothing wrong with Miggy’s swing, it’s just not getting the results it should. His Batting Average on Balls in Play is a lowly .188.
Still, Cabrera is displeased with how things are going and is tinkering with things a bit in hopes to improve. For a guy who spent the better part of two seasons hitting without the use of the lower half of his body, re-incorporating that is proving to be a challenge. Still looks like he’s having trouble driving off that right knee. Whatever is going on it doesn’t seem to concern the coaching staff too much. Miggy’s one for three performance in the final game of the Cleveland series might be a good jump start to some better at-bats going forward.
Calling them up
Jules Posner at Forbes takes a look at the past week that saw the Tigers called up three of their top prospects. When considering Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize, the first starts could have been better, but they both showed definite flashes of why they have been given the opportunity to contribute with the Major League squad this year. The third addition to that crew — Isaac Paredes — looks like he’s been hitting in a major league lineup his whole life. What might be hidden by his grand slam home run on Saturday is his plate discipline and ability to work deep into counts. If this is the future for the Tigers, it’s looking pretty good.
Fernando Tatis Jr. is awesome
.@tatis_jr is UNBELIEVABLE. pic.twitter.com/wueX5wygRM— MLB (@MLB) August 23, 2020
Around the horn
Two cheers for MLB and how they’re adapting for the 2020 season. San Francisco Giants DFA Hunter Pence. Jose Abreu ties MLB record homering in four straight at bats. Chris Mears liked Matt Manning in the 2016 draft.