OR: Fun With Small Sample Sizes
April 5th was the Detroit Tigers’ first offday of the 2019 season. The Tigers, as one might expect, sit at 5-3 and are currently in second place behind only the Minnesota Twins despite a -4 run differential. It’s what we all expected, right? Right!
How have the Tigers done it? Most fans expected a dismal start to the season, considering the Tigers did next to nothing to improve on a team that staggered to a 64-98 season the year before. So, what gives? Well, the starting rotation, which one might reasonably expect to be terrible, especially with the absence of Michael Fulmer due to Tommy John surgery, has been carrying the team this first week.
More after the cut!
We’re only a third of the way through the season, so not probably not very much. However, it did show us some very important things. Namely, Jordan Zimmermann can resemble his old, pre-injury self when he has a handle on his once deadly slider. It showed us that the Tigers’ bullpen is pretty dang good now, and might have some unsung heroes, such as long-man Warwick Saupold. This series also showed us two different sides to the Tigers’ sometimes explosive, often frustrating offense: they can destroy weak pitching with the long ball and rack up extra base hits and they can play a little smallball, move runners along, and cash them in at opportune moments.
Almost everything went right for the Tigers in their three-game sweep of the lowly White Sox. And when something didn’t go as planned—such as de facto ace Justin Verlander leaving Sunday’s game early with a groin injury or stalwart set-up man Alex Wilson faltering in the eighth—different players stepped up to carry the team.
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The Tigers’ three-game set in Tampa Bay was hardly a clinic in good pitching, good defense, or good hitting. The Tigers got drubbed in two of the three, and then handed away the other game on a game-ending error. Some fans might be wondering, “Is there anything we can take from this series?” It’s still rather early in the season so I don’t advocate attempting to draw meaningful conclusions from a three-game series, no matter how miserable it was.
Tigers drop series. More at 11. Or after this read-more.