Can the Detroit Tigers recover after a not so positive start to the 2022 MLB season? After several brutal seasons of losing baseball, this year was going to be the year they finish over .500 and maybe contend for a playoff spot.
One requirement surrounding a successful 2022 Tigers team was that they just could not start April off like last they did last year. Last April, they went 8–19 and never really recovered. They did play near .500 baseball the rest of the way, and finished with a 77–85 record. While not .500, it did give fans some hope for 2022.
Did Not Happen
That, however, did not happen. After the first 30 games of the season, the Tigers have a 13–26 record, and are in last place in the AL Central. They also have the worst record in the American League. You can say that April and May have gone about as poorly as anyone could have imagined with the Tigers losing seven of the eight series that they have played.
Offense Needs to Get Going
Whether or not the Detroit Tigers recover depends on their offense. It has been, to say the least, horrendous. They are hitting .219 as a team, ranking them 27th out of 30. They are last in RBI, extra base hits, and stolen bases. Also contributing to the ice-cold offense is that they are last in hits and lead the league in grounding into double plays.
No Home Run Power
Adding to those poor stats, they are last-in-home runs and slugging percentage. Robbie Grossman, who hit 23 home runs for them last season has zero this year, and Austin Meadows, who was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays for his power when he hit 27 home runs last season, also zero home runs. Touted rookie Spencer Torkelson, who showed home run power in the minors has struggled to hit MLB pitching with a .179 average, leads the team with only four.
Other Players Struggling
Akil Baddoo, who burst onto the scene last year and became a fan-favorite, is struggling. He was the leadoff hitter to start the season, but with a .140 average and 15 strikeouts, has lost his starting job.
Jeimer Candelario, who led the league in doubles last season, is hitting .201 and has struck out 31 times. Veteran and team leader Jonathan Schoop is off to the worst start of his ten-year career with a .157 average.
Injuries to Pitching Staff
Adding to the poor offensive showing, are injuries. Can the Detroit Tigers recover from the injuries? We know teams have injuries, but this team has been particularly unlucky in the injury department this season. Three members of the Opening Day starting rotation are already on the injured list, Tyler Alexander, Casey Mize, and Matt Manning. Michael Pineda, who has pitched decently in his three games, also finds himself on the 15-day IL.
Even the bullpen has seen injuries. Andrew Chafin who started the season on the IL returned last week. It will take some innings to get him in game shape. Jose Cisnero and Kyle Funkhouser, two other key bullpen arms the Tigers were counting on in 2022, are nowhere ready to take the mound.
There is a bright spot, however. Tigers’ pitching has been a surprise. It will need to carry the team until the offense comes around. Even with all the injuries to the starting rotation, they have pitched well. The starting staff is in the top-ten in starting pitching, ERA, and quality starts.
The Tigers have one of the best bullpen,s and nobody is talking about it because of their slow start. Their bullpen has some guys cast off other teams but who have become very reliable for the Tigers. They are in the top-five in bullpen ERA, and getting hitters to ground out. They have the second lowest batting average against. And, although closer Gregory Soto has struggled, he still has six saves among the team’s nine wins.
Recovery can Happen
The Detroit Tigers recovery depends on many baseball situations. We know timely hitting, quality pitching, an effective bullpen, winning at home, and even defense wins games. However, currently, the only thing the Tigers have going for them is consistent pitching.
One thing they have going for them is that it’s late May. In what’s considered a weak AL Central, the Tigers could turn things around. Last year they won nine of 11 games, showing that a baseball season can turn around quickly. Pitching can only take a team so far. To turn things around, the established hitters need to break out of their slumps and get hits—and get them with runners in scoring positions—and the home run ball needs to break out. If the Tigers continue to struggle with hitting, it will certainly turn out to be a long summer, and another season of a team that finishes below .500.
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Robbie Grossman, Austin Meadows, Spencer Torkelson, Akil Baddoo, Jeimer Candelario, Jonathan Schoop, Tyler Alexander, Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Michael Pineda, Andrew Chafin, Jose Cisnero, Kyle Funkhouser, Gregory Soto