The Detroit Tigers starting pitchers must have a strong April in order for the team to dominate the American League Central as expected. Slow springs have put the Tigers behind in the count and required clutch performances down the stretch in order to make the play-offs.
After starting 2012 8-3, they went 3-8 the rest of the month and ended April 11-11. The losing continued in May and before you knew it, the Tigers were under .500 by four games. Slow starts have been a common trait for the Detroit Tigers under Jim Leyland the last few years. After coming north, the Tigers have been as cold in April as the beer on opening day. The Motor City Kitties do more purring rather than roaring early in the season, posting a cuddly 11-11 in 2012, 12-15 in 2011, and 11-11 in 2009.
So why have the Tigers struggled to crack .500 in April? You can attribute this in large part to slow starts by the top of the rotation. Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer have been notoriously sluggish in the spring. JV has a career mark of 11-15 with a 4.47 ERA in the opening month of the season. Max Scherzer isn’t much better posting 6-6 mark with a 4.55. In fact he usually takes another month to warm up posting a career 5.03 ERA in May.
The Detroit Tigers must have a winning record when the calender flips over to May this season. If not they risk tying their paws later in the season. Slow starts in 3 of the last 4 seasons have made it necessary for the Tigers play white knuckle baseball down the stretch. While other teams are making trade deadline deals to strengthen their line-up for the stretch run, the Tigers have been in limbo. Not knowing if they are buyers or sellers, has left management unwilling to make big commitments at the trade deadline and forcing Dave Dombrowski pull players off the scrap heap in the waiver draft. In order to fully maximize the resources available and make the mid season adjustments necessary to win the world series; the boys from the D must be well over .500 by the All-Star game. The only way that gets done is if the Detroit Tiger starting pitchers have a strong start to the season. If Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander can manage winning records in April, the Detroit Tigers could come close to the record setting start they had in 1984. If they don’t we could be in for a frustrating end to the 2013 season.