COMMENTARY | The Detroit Tigers smashed their way to a three-game sweep over the free-swinging Atlanta Braves this past weekend. Every aspect of the Tigers' success was on display against the National League's top team.
What exactly can we take away from the Tigers' sweep over a potential World Series foe? Well, there are many things on the board after the team's first sweep of the season.
But in a series that didn't feature any negatives by the Tigers, there were three clear-cut positives that stood out:
The Tigers' offense is extremely dangerous
This is something that can usually go without being said, as the Tigers' offense has the reputation and potential to light up scoreboards routinely. However, after facing a top-tier team such as the Braves, it's definitely a positive worth noting, especially after the inconsistencies the Tigers have experienced with their offense over the past several seasons.
Twenty-five. That's the combined number of runs the Tigers scored in their three-game series against the Braves. The team scored seven or more runs each game and slugged five home runs in the weekend series.
The Tigers are known for their powerful 1-5 hitters, but the bottom portion of the lineup got the job done against the Braves. Their 6-9 hitters -- Jhonny Peralta, Matt Tuiasosopo, Don Kelly, Brayan Pena, and Omar Infante -- combined to hit 15-42 with 10 runs and nine RBIs against the Braves. That kind of production from the bottom of the lineup is incredible and validates the explosiveness of the Tigers' offense.
The bullpen showed vast improvement
The Tigers' bullpen has been laughable most of April, with the exception of their West Coast trip. However, against baseball's hottest team, the group was able to turn its fortunes around.
Besides a Justin Upton home run off of Joaquin Benoit on April 27, the Tigers' bullpen was flawless. Benoit allowed the lone two hits and one run in his one inning pitched. Al Alburquerque, Bruce Rondon, Drew Smyly, and Jose Valverde combined for zero hits and eight strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings pitched.
Three near flawless games doesn't necessarily mean the bullpen troubles are over, but it is something positive that could ultimately be on the horizon for the group.
The starters can compete amongst the game's best
How do you know you have an excellent starting staff? Simple, you shut down the hottest team in baseball.
The Braves came to Comerica Park with a 15-6 record and 11 games in which they scored five or more runs. They left Comerica Park with a 15-9 record, were shut out once, and struck out 30 times by Tigers starters.
Anibal Sanchez shut down the Braves with 17 strikeouts in eight innings pitched April 26. He broke the Tigers' strikeout record for a game after pitching a shutout against the hottest offensive team in the nation. That itself speaks volumes.
Rick Porcello was able to contain the Braves on April 27, and Doug Fister made them look silly the following day.
You'd expect this kind of performance from Justin Verlander, but the Tigers were able to put up these kind of numbers even without baseball's best pitcher, a scary thought for opposing teams and their hitters.Ricky Lindsay has followed the Detroit Tigers and Major League Baseball with a close eye from Metro Detroit for several years. He's a sportswriter for his college newspaper, The Michigan Journal, and broadcasts games for the Michigan Lightning, a semi-professional football team.
You can find him on Twitter @RLindz35.
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