The baseball season is more than halfway done, and the Tigers could be a lot better.   They’re 3 games over .500. , and if the season were over they’d be going home again.  Detroit trails the Indians by 6 ½ in the Central Division, and they trail Houston, Toronto and Boston in the Wild Card Race.

Most noteworthy so far, is the lack of consistency by the Tigers.  They win 5.  Then lose 6. Then win 4.  Lose 5.   And with the exception of a game or two, there never seems to be any late-inning magic or heroics.   That was the trademark of the 1968 Tigers and many other great teams.  Somebody always seems to step up in the late innings and the team would pull out a win.

There’s an old saying in baseball:  “Good pitching will beat good hitting.”  We’ll, that sums up the 2016 Tigers.  The hitting has been fairly good.  The pitching has not.   The bullpen is improved, but the starting pitching has been a big disappointment.

Tiger’s Grades for 2016 So Far:

  • Hitting: B-
  • Starting Pitching: C-
  • Bullpen: C
  • Overall Grade: C+
The Hitting
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

A “B-“ may be generous for a very streaky hitting team.  It’s either feast of famine with these guys, and there have been way too many lean games where the hitters didn’t do much.   Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez have been good, although I wouldn’t call it a banner year for Miggy so far.  Nick Castellanos has really been great, and so has Ian Kinsler and Cameron Maybin.  The Tigers haven’t missed the injured J.D. Martinez too much, as Steven Moya has really stepped up.  But a third of the lineup, Justin Upton, James McCann and Jose Iglesias are struggling.

Starting Pitching
(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Starting pitching isn’t close to what it needs to be, mostly because of the struggles of Anibal Sanchez.  The Tigers count on him to be one of their top three starters.  He’s been awful.  But rookie Michael Fulmer has come out of nowhere to counteract Sanchez’s trouble.   Jordan Zimmerman started out hot, but has tailed off and has been injured.  He’s got to get on track.  Justin Verlander has been good, but needs to be better.  Mike Pelfrey has pitched better than his record shows.  Look for Pelfrey to be an asset in the second half.   The Tigers are either going to need to deal for a starting pitcher, or hope that the guys they got a year ago in the David Price trade, Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris, can finally get it together.  So far, they haven’t.

The Pen
(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

The bullpen is much improved, which isn’t really saying a lot.  Francisco Rodriguez has done the job as closer, something Tiger fans have not seen in a while.  But free agent Mark Lowe has been terrible, and the rest of the bullpen has been very inconsistent.  Shane Green has been a good addition.  Justin Wilson has been good.  Alex Wilson and Bruce Rondon seem close to being good…which in the major leagues is considered, not good.

The Prognosis
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Other than fixing the problems in the starting rotation, it’s hard to come up with what the team needs to make the playoffs. The team lacks spark.  The team lacks consistency.  They need to get J.D. Martinez back.  They need those three hitters, especially Upton, to come around.  But as much as I like manager Brad Ausmus, I’m starting to think another manager might be able to light a fire under these guys and get them to play better.  We’ll see. They’re not out of it yet.