After the trade deadline, some media pundits were saying the Cleveland Indians were the favorites in the AL, with their acquisition of Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees. However, just three days later one could argue whether the tribe can even win their division anymore. The Detroit Tigers have won eight in a row, heading into their afternoon game against the White Sox today. Detroit is suddenly only two games behind Cleveland, with a third of the season remaining.
This Tigers surge, for the most part, has come with two main contributors on the disabled list. Starting pitcher Jordan Zimmerman is returning today to start against Chicago, following a neck injury which has sidelined him since June 30th. Zimmerman was 9-4 with a 3.95 ERA in 15 starts prior to the injury. If Zimmerman returns in the same form as he was before he got hurt, Detroit could have a very scary top of the rotation, along with Justin Verlander, and rookie sensation Michael Fulmer.
So far in the 2016 season, Detroit hasn’t been hurting for offense either, averaging 4.82 runs per game, which places them seventh in all of Major League Baseball in that category. Oh, by the way, Detroit has been without right fielder J.D. Martinez for one third of the season. In 66 games, Martinez has a .289 batting average, with 13 home runs and 40 RBI’S. Martinez returned from the disabled list last night with a pinch hit, game-winning home run off of Chris Sale in the Tiger’s 2-1 victory.
Detroit’s schedule down the stretch could tip the scales in the race against the Indians. The Tigers have 26 games remaining against the bottom three teams in their division, ten of which are against the last place Minnesota Twins. So no one should consider the AL central race over. Detroit will be a factor down the stretch.