By James Nahikian
The Tigers are now in Texas (45-28) and playing the best team in baseball. Detroit recently won four straight series before dropping two of three in Pittsburgh against the Pirates. The Tigers are 3.0 games out of first place in the Central Division, and will face a very difficult task this week in facing quality teams in the Rangers and Rays, both of which will be on the road.
The series that is particularly interesting to me is the series in Texas. The Tigers will need to play very good baseball to win the series, and they can’t be bailed out like they were yesterday by their ace, Justin Verlander. So how will this team fair with the big boys as they try to claw their way back to 1st place before the All-Star break? That won’t be answered for a few days, but the series is very intriguing.
-Will the Tigers be overmatched without Justin Verlander and with inconsistent, young pitchers taking the mound in Porcello and Smyly?
-How will Smyly perform after returning from the DL? The Tigers have not had much success in players returning from injuries, both Avila and Fister, more noticeably, have tried to come back too soon only to return back to the DL.
-It will be really cool to see the Japanese star, Yu Darvish pitch on Tuesday. Darvish dominated the Tigers earlier in the year and is off to a great rookie season, as he has 9 wins and an ERA of 3.45.
-It will also be interesting to see Roy Oswalt take the bump on Wednesday. Oswalt was recently acquired by Texas and won his debut on Friday. Oswalt was one of the more talked about free agents this offseason in the pitching market, and the Tigers were even rumored to be a possible destination, but Roy was picked up a few months into the season and is still a very quality pitcher.
-The Tigers will NEED to get off to quick starts. Texas has a dominant bullpen, remember the ALCS? If Texas gets early leads, it will be next to impossible to come back. The good news is that Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz are both on the DL, both have been particularly dominant against Detroit in the past.
-Texas has a very potent lineup, its a toss up if guys like Porcello and Smyly will be able to survive.
The Tigers are off to a great start so far as they had a great first inning and now lead 6-0 in the 5th inning, Porcello looks good and is getting his ground balls. Also, Kevin Youkilis is making his White Sox debut tonight, he is 0-2 so far with two ground outs.
It is also good that both Cleveland and Chicago are losing tonight, which means Detroit could be only two games back at the end of the night.
James Nahikian blogs about the industry of sports. And specializes in articles about the Detroit Tigers, Major League Baseball and Bowling Green State University Athletics. Email him at email@example.com And follow him on twitter @KingNahikian or facebook where you can find links to his articles and updates about future posts