Paul Wezner, Senior Editor
Basically, all the good hitters started slumping at the same time, or the players that were hitting over their head returned to where they should be. No matter how good the pitching is, when the Tigers are scoring well under four runs per game (as they have been since their last series victory in mid August against Boston), they're going to struggle to win baseball games. The season is certainly not lost, as the Tigers still lead the AL Central, but at some point, the offense is going to have to turn it on and pick up a few big wins for the clubs. If Magglio Ordonez can heat back up, it'll go a long way toward helping the club make their first playoff appearance in twenty years. And with just a handful of games left, a few breakout games here and there from players like Craig Monroe and Curtis Granderson, and the Tigers can punch their ticket for October.
Mark Anderson, Associate Editor, Minor Leagues
Simply put, the Tigers were never as good offensively as their early season success made many believe. They were still a deeply flawed offensive team, one that would be exposed eventually. It didn't happen all at once, but it caught up to the team all at once. They certainly have some talented hitters, but not hitters that can help carry a team to the playoffs. A pitching staff can only do so much. I fully expect the pitching to keep the Tigers in the thick of the race for the remainder of the season, and if the offense can find the occasional spark against some of their weaker foes, they should sneak in to the playoffs. It's going to be tight, but pitching talks down the stretch, and the Tigers have plenty of pitching. Look for the Tigers to have just enough offense to make the postseason, and then they better hope the pitching staff gets white hot in a hurry.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I think it's obvious that the bats have gone ice cold. Over the last 30 days, the Tigers have only two players that play on a regular basis that are hitting better than .290. They are Carlos Guillen, who certainly can't be 100% with his hamstring, and Omar Infante, who inexplicably sits on the bench for Neifi Perez (.159 since joining the Tigers). The Tigers also continue to strikeout at a huge rate, racking up 189 Ks over the same timeframe. The pitching as a whole has been very good, but Jeremy Bonderman has been brutal, posting an 0-3, 6.15 mark over six starts. What's even more troubling is how hittable he has been. He has given up 48 hits in 33 2/3 innings, and for someone with his stuff, that's unacceptable.
Can they save the season? Absolutely, but they must have a good homestand (4-1 minimum) against Texas and Baltimore, because the White Sox are playing out west, and the Twins have a tough series with Oakland, so the opportunity is there to possibly gain some ground. The pitching the Tigers will face this week isn't that stellar, but we all know how that's gone over the last month. Sooner or later this team is bound to break out. If they can't do it against the likes of Hayden Penn (36.82 ERA, small sample size, I know), then they don't deserve to go to the playoffs.
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