Tha Sports Junkies 101

2016 Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers J. Long via


Detroit Tigers

With a little over two weeks left in the 2016 MLB season, the Detroit Tigers are right in the thick of a wild card battle. That battle involves the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and of course the Tigers. The wild card is the only way Detroit can make the playoffs this year as they trail the Cleveland Indians by seven games in the AL Central. We will break down the Tigers and assess their chances of making the playoffs in 2016.

At 83-70, the Tigers are currently half a game ahead of the Orioles for the second AL wild card spot. Even though the Tigers trail the Blue Jays by one game for the top wild card spot, anything can happen within the next couple of days. The Tigers do not play the Orioles nor the Blue Jays in the remainder of the regular season, so they will need help from the Orioles’ opponents.

Remaining on the Tigers schedule are four tough games against the AL Central leading Indians. The Orioles play the Blue Jays three times starting on September 27th. This series could be important for the Tigers because if the Orioles can sweep the Blue Jays, the Tigers may be able to grab the first wild card spot. With only 2 games separating these three teams, a three game series could be the difference in who makes the playoffs.

The Tigers certainly are equipped to handle a playoff run. They have one of the best offenses in baseball and that is shown by their .264 team batting average which ranks 3rd in the majors. A big reason for that statistic is right fielder J.D. Martinez. He leads the team with a .309 batting average but also has a .377 OBP and .542 slugging percentage. To go along with those numbers, he has hit 21 home runs and driven in 63 runs.

Martinez is not the only Tigers hitter that is having a good season. Ian Kinsler has belted 26 home runs this season while Justin Upton has hit 27 bombs this year. Martinez, Upton and Kinsler have all played good this season but the man who has really carried this Tigers offense is Miguel Cabrera. He has 34 home runs and 94 RBI’s to go with his team leading .387 OBP and 173 hits. Cabrera also has a 4.7 WAR which leads all Tigers hitters this season. The Tigers certainly know how to score runs as they rank 12th in the majors in that department, but they will need better pitching if they hope to make the playoffs.

As a team, the Detroit Tigers rank 19th in the majors with a 4.21 ERA. They have given up 684 runs as a team and rank 19th with a .259 batting average against.

Justin Verlander has been the man for the Tigers rotation this season as he has a 3.21 ERA with 234 strikeouts in 213 innings. His 5.6 WAR leads all Tigers pitchers but is closely followed by Michael Fulmer. He has a 4.7 WAR but most importantly, he leads the team with a 2.95 ERA. Fulmer also has an 11-7 record in 25 starts this season. Even though he is a rookie, Fulmer is still getting the job done. To many, he is the AL Rookie of the Year but if the Tigers fail to make the playoffs that could change. The rotation is a little fuzzy behind Verlander and Fulmer but the Tigers have a solid closer in Francisco Rodriguez. He has recorded 44 saves this season and pitched to a 2.54 ERA while striking out 48 in 56.2 innings.

With a lineup that features J.D. Martinez and Miguel Cabrera, expect the Tigers to put a lot of runs on the board. Offense alone will not get them very far in the playoffs. They will need pitchers other than Verlander and Fulmer to step up if they hope to fend off the Orioles for that second AL wild card.

At the end of play on Friday, the Tigers are half a game ahead of the Orioles for the second wild card but 1 game behind the Blue Jays for the first wild card. If the Detroit Tigers can hold this position, they will have to travel to Canada to face a tough Blue Jays team in a one game play-in type game.