COMMENTARY| Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander says his club needs to pick itself up from the ground.
Detroit, after a hot 9-3 start, has staggered to an 11-21 record since, appearing bewildered, out of gas, lost and confused. The Tigers took two of three from the Pittsburgh Pirates this past weekend on the strength of Verlander's one-hitter Friday in the Tigers' 6-0 win, and Max Scherzer's career-high 15 strikeouts Sunday, which pushed the Tigers to 2-1 over their visitors.
Detroit was turning a corner -- maybe. Showing some sort of life would be a more accurate statement. The pitching took a small step forward and the offense put up a fight. But after being swept in three games by the American League Central-leading Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field, the Tigers looked worse off than prior to meeting the Pirates.
Up. Down. Up again. And down again.
"We've got to find our groove, and we've got to find it quickly," Verlander told the Detroit Free Press. "We're a good team. We know that. I think, because we know we're good, maybe it's a little easier to sit back and say, 'OK, it's early. We'll find it.' At some point, it's not early anymore. You're going to have to make adjustments to find it as a team," later adding he and his team's "time is now!"
At this point, words from Verlander should hold more meaning than from anyone else. Although he was in line with what Leyland has said, perhaps coming from a leader would hold more weight in the clubhouse.
Worth a shot.
Leyland says the Tigers are putting forth an honest effort. Things aren't falling into place, and those things are increasingly evident now that the Tigers have surpassed the early-season, 40-game threshold.
Now, I don't like to put timetables on events. But, when pertaining to something like baseball -- or any other sport -- they're a necessary evil. At this point, the Tigers need something new.
"It's not like they're not trying and not playing hard every night," Leyland said. "It's not that they're not pissed off. But all we can do is just keep grinding. We're a very good team that's not playing very good."
Fans are calling for the jobs of Leyland, hitting coach Lloyd McClendon and even GM Dave Dombrowski. I'm not so sure that's what the Tigers need right now. The "new" approach should be geared more toward the players -- like veterans such as Verlander voicing their opinion.
The consensus feeling is that the Tigers are a good team that's not playing up to speed. That's been repeated over and over again, but still, the same results are present after each loss. It's a broken record, skipping absolute.
Just like Cleveland was supposed to be, the upcoming schedule with the St. Louis Cardinals, Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs appears to be another "gauge." Not that the series with the Indians didn't measure something: It quantified just how relaxed the bats have been. But it was a series fans wanted to see positive results come from. They got the opposite.
Will the Tigers come out on the empty side once again? They're four games back as Friday afternoon. Long road trips to Oakland and Seattle proved to be disastrous. The Cubs, Rockies and Cardinals aren't top-notch clubs, but neither were the Athletics or Mariners.
Detroit can ill afford more losses, putting it further behind the Indians and further into question.
Adam Biggers has followed Major League Baseball for over 20 years, specifically the Detroit Tigers. He can be found on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.
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