Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Greene Machine


As some other things have settled in the AL Central, some things about the Tigers have become more clear. It was established early on that the Tigers are good this year. But after a week where the Guardians have gone toe-to-toe with Houston, the Royals have continued to impress at long last, and the Twins have won ten in a row, the Tigers might be the least interesting good team in the division.

And that feels like a bit of a gut punch. People have been waiting 10 years for the Tigers to be good again, or even relevant. They withstood years of people like Mikie Mahtook or JaCoby Jones or Joe Jimenez trudging around out there trying their best. And now that the Tigers actually have a winning record and a decent backbone, they're just not as interesting as the rest of the division. Even the White Sox are more interesting by being terrible! The Tigers are just kinda there right now. GOOD, but...there.

I think the issue is that there isn't a towering hero figure for this team right now. The Royals have Bobby Witt, the Twins have Pablo Lopez, the Guardians have Steven Kwan. The Tigers do have Riley Greene, and he has been pretty heroic for this team so far, with impeccable defense, 7 homers and 15 RBIs. But he's not as fully formed as people would like him to be, as he's still striking out too much and is only hitting .257. This is his best start yet, and it's looking like, if all goes well, this will be the kind of season that Tigers fans have been hoping for. But...I don't know if he's all the way there yet. Bobby Witt seems to be all the way there. I don't get that about Greene yet, and I'm not all that sure why.

It's similar to Casey Mize, who was this team's can't miss prospect, then went in for surgery, came back and now he's...human. Y'know, he's a serviceable starter. 3.08 ERA, 18 Ks. Because of arm conservation he's not in the game much and not throwing hard. I know he's already 27 but I'm worried that a great deal of his edge has been sanded off, and he might not hit the heights he could prior. But again, he could just need a boost, and he could be alright eventually. If we didn't have Tarik Skubal pitching like a pro I'd be more worried.

I will say, to this team's credit, the biggest story the Tigers made this week was Jack Flaherty absolutely stymieing his former team, with a career-high 14 strikeouts and 2 hits in a game the Cardinals would win the second he stepped off the mound. Jack Flaherty isn't 100% 'back', he's got a 4 ERA overall so far, but he's looked more dominant with Detroit than he did with Baltimore, and he's adding a lot to this rotation unit. I'm hoping he improves further as the season goes on, but, again, we'll have to see.

The Tigers have an impeccable bullpen, so many great young players, a rookie outfielder who can hit homers from both sides of the plate, and lots of cool nooks and crannies that took them years to really employ. This is their best team in years, and while I find it very funny that it may not be enough to completely break out this year [considering how ho-hum the competition usually is in the AL Central], I think they can build on this and outlast a few of their competitors if the right circumstances line up.

Coming Tomorrow- A Milwaukee Brewer that hasn't gotten in a fight with anyone yet.

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