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Detroit Tigers News: The Candy Man can

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Detroit’s young infielder has been playing well of late and even picked up some hardware for his efforts.

Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It has been quite an up-and-down season for Detroit Tigers, not just for the team as a whole, but for many individual players as well. From a nine-game winning streak to a trio of double-digit blowout losses, from JaCoby Jones’ hot start to Matthew Boyd’s season-long implosion, the boys in the Olde English D have experienced both the lofty apex and disappointing nadir of the summer of 2020.

Along with Jones and Victor Reyes, Jeimer Candelario is one of the players who have been on the upswing this summer. Coming over in an exchange with the Chicago Cubs that also netted Isaac Parades for Justin Wilson and Alex Avila, it is beginning to look like we may have won that trade.

How sweet it is

Candelario has been receiving a lot of attention in the media recently for his improved on-field performance, culminating in his American League Player of the Week award. The murmurs began last week when Cody Stavenhagen wrote about the Candy Man’s role in the surge the Tigers were experiencing at the time for The Athletic. After starting the season with an abysmal 0-for-17 streak at the plate, the 26-year-old infielder has finally got it goin’.

Ted Kufan followed that up with his piece at The Detroit News which offered a similar message of redemption for the highly-coveted trade return. After a hot start with the Tigers after coming over from Chicago, he had been mired in the doldrums at the big league level the past couple of years, though he had a strong showing in the Dominican League last season. Perhaps that nagging wrist injury is finally gone, but regardless, Candelario has taken that next step we have all been waiting for.

A few days later, Evan Petzold at the Detroit Free Press offered a couple of poignant quotes from Ron Gardenhire regarding Candy’s contributions to the team this summer. After the first game of the season on July 24, Gardenhire said the following.

“The biggest thing for me in this offense and our lineup is that Candy has a good year. He needs to step up and get it done.”

More recently on Sept. 8, the Tigers’ manager gave the following updated appraisal of Jeimer’s progress.

“You can see a difference in everything. That’s the guy that we talked about all spring, that we need this guy to do something. It’s time, and he’s stepping up and getting it done.”

All of this came to a head on Monday when Candelario was the first Tiger to be named AL Player of the Week since Nick Castellanos earned the honor in August 2018. He is recognized for his week in which he slashed .423/.500/.923 with three homers and nine RBIs from Sept. 7-13. He had a few words for his recent surge, which raised his slashline to .333/.391/.572 on the season.

“I’m recognizing better the pitches right now because I have been controlling my body so I can be in a good position to recognize the ball and put the barrel on the ball.”

Keep doing whatever it is that you are doing right, Jeimer. We all love what we are seeing right now.

Time for Stewie to retool

While Candelario has soared, former prospect Christin Stewart has stumbled yet again at the major league level this summer. Already a sub-par defender in the outfield, his value is derived almost exclusively from his performance at the plate, which has been underwhelming so far in his big league career, to put it nicely.

Jules Posner, who knows a thing or two about hitting, put together a piece for Forbes that suggests that the Tigers are looking to retool his swing with a trip to Toledo. According to Posner, Big League Stew’s biggest problems are that his current approach leaves him vulnerable to pitchers who have seen him more than once as well as his swing as a whole. Additionally, hurlers who are good at tunneling their pitches have been eating Stewart alive, rendering him impotent at the plate.

Hopefully, the Tigers can help him make the necessary changes to untap the power we saw while he was in the minors. Otherwise, there is not much room for him in the future of this team.

Jake Rogers, where art thou?

It has been a tough year behind the dish for Detroit, even with Austin Romine’s surprisingly solid veteran presence helping keep the ship afloat. However, his backup Grayson Greiner has left a lot to be desired with his awful slash line of .118/.182/.333 (yes, that’s batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage) and subpar play with the glove in 18 games. With the writing clearly on the wall, it was time for the front office to make a move so... Eric Haase got the call.

On the surface of things, Haase makes some sense as he provides some power at the plate as well as a modicum of veteran experience. But the move leaves many fans wondering what the heck is up with former prospect Jake Rogers.

The Detroit Free Press once again tackles this subject in an article published on Wednesday that points out that Rogers’ call-up was never in the plans, as general manager Al Avila said in late August it would take an injury to spark his return to the majors. Gardenhire had the following to say about the 25-year-old catcher’s current state.

“Well, he’s doing OK. Yeah, he’s fine. I’m sure he’s frustrated. ... We know where Jake’s gonna be next year. He’s gonna be with us, for sure.”

He also added an explanation for Haase’s promotion to the big league club.

“We want to make sure what we’ve got in Haase. I think that’s what Al was talking about. And we’ll activate him and we’ll see what he’s got and what he can do right now.”

So it appears that the fanbase will have to be patient for Rogers’ return to the majors, but for now hopefully he is getting the instruction and repetition he needs to succeed at the next level.

Around the horn

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