SHAWN WINDSOR: Is it time for a Detroit Tigers fire sale?

The Tigers head into the All-Star break having lost five of seven. They won six straight before that. Lost three before that. Won four before that.

All of which makes it hard to know what kind of team we are watching, other than an inconsistent one.

Before we argue whether the Tigers should trade off some veteran assets in exchange for some promising young talent — essentially giving up on this season — here are a several things to consider:

The starting pitching staff is not healthy.

Even if the staff were healthy, it lacks depth.

Of the Tigers’ 71 remaining games, 42 are at home.

The bullpen. The bullpen. The bullpen.

It was supposed to be better this season. In some ways, it is.

But when your starting rotation has two reliable pitchers, and one of those pitchers leaves with a one-run lead an out short of the seventh, well, the bullpen should be able to hold that lead — especially when the offense tacks on an additional run the next inning.

When the bullpen blew a two-run lead in Toronto on Thursday night with Justin Verlander on the mound, it made it almost impossible for the Tigers to split the four-game series with the Blue Jays.

They didn’t.

Were it not for an impressive fill-in start from Matt Boyd — he gave up one run in five innings in Saturday’s win — the Tigers would’ve finished the pre-All-Star portion of the schedule on a four-game losing streak.

And yet, despite the wobbly pen and the injured starters — Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Norris — this team still seems capable of making a run to the wild card if they get the pitchers healthy.

Or maybe we just think they can make a run because they are an above .500 team (46-43) with a favorable schedule with only 29 remaining road games. (The Tigers are 23-27 on the road and 23-16 at home.)

Also: the Twins. The Tigers have 12 games left with them. And only seven games left against the Indians, whom they’ve beaten once in 12 tries.

After Sunday’s loss to the Blue Jays, the Tigers trailed the wild-card leaders by four games. As it happens, the Blue Jays are one of those teams; the Red Sox are the other.

The only team between those teams and the Tigers are the Astros, a young, talented squad that had won 15 of 20 entering Sunday. That’s the good news.

The bad?

Kansas City is also only four games from a wild-card spot.

So, the reality is that the Tigers will have to be better than three of these four teams the rest of the way — Boston, Toronto, Houston, Kansas City.

That seems daunting.

Especially since all but three have outplayed the Tigers so far.

It’s possible that the Tigers get healthy, that Miguel Cabrera starts hitting lefties, that Justin Upton returns to the form that made general manager Al Avila want to sign him, that the bullpen straightens out.

But how possible?

Worth keeping this group intact the rest of the season and searching for a couple more pieces? (A starting pitcher, perhaps?)

In a vacuum, the sensible move would be to try to move a few assets before the trading deadline (Aug. 1) and hope to find another Michael Fulmer.

Yet we don’t live in a vacuum. We live in an area with a baseball team presided over by a deep-pocketed owner who desperately wants a World Series title.

Besides, the Tigers have 16 games before the trading deadline. Maybe they will finally show us who they are.

One way or the other.

avatar

Posted by Tribune News Services

Leave a Reply