Wouldn’t I love to call this a big series coming up, and then make a joke about how it’s not literally big, it’s only two games. Well I can’t make the 2 game series joke in that fashion because it’s not a big series. The Sox sit 3 games under .500 and the Tigers surprisingly sit right at .500. Perhaps after the dust settles from the inevitable interleague win streaks, we can look back upon this series and say, “it’s a good thing we won those 2 games against the Tigers.
It may not be big, but we’ve got some questions for John Verburg of Motor City Bengals, Fansided’s Tigers site. We’d like to know what’s up with that .500 record and touch on some players surely nobody ever talks about in Detroit without being prodded, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander.
MA: When the season started, most people were pretty sure that the Tigers would run away with the AL Central. I would think most folks still believe the Tigers will take the division, but no longer in such a landslide. Where do you think the Tigers fit into the division, and to what do you attribute the slow start?
JV: Well, the slow start is easy to attribute to the offense that hasn’t produced as expected. And there is some obvious truth to that. But as Jim Leyland likes to say, check the back of their bubblegum card and you will see what they will do. Guys like Prince and Miguel Cabrera will put up the numbers, and the offense will get going. My concern is their bullpen. Valverde doesn’t look right, and Benoit is walking way too many guys. The Tigers were 77-0 last year when going into the 8th with a lead. I think they’ve lost 6 games or something like that already this season. I didn’t expect perfection, but it’s been a roller coaster ride almost every night. Still, I think the Tigers by August will be leading the division, and eventually separate themselves.
MA: Miguel Cabrera has been good so far in 2012, but not Miguel Cabrera good. Do you expect that he’ll come back up and come near duplicating his season stats in 2011? Do you think the step down is just due to the fact that it’s mid-May or do you think perhaps it’s related to the adjustment he’s had to make on the defensive end?
JV: I don’t think it has anything to do with his defense honestly. I think that it’s a vastly overrated school of thought that some guys lose something at the dish because they are focusing so hard on defense. Cabrera didn’t forget how to hit, he hasn’t been as lucky in the past, and there might be a slight mechanical adjustment he needs to make. I think he will make it very soon, and we will see the same offensive monster we always have.
MA: Justin Verlander is leaned on pretty heavily for innings, probably rightly so, it’s hard to argue with success. But do you think that after averaging nearly 240 innings over the last 3 years that he could start to wear down a bit if that trend continues through the season?
JV: At this point no. He seems to be a freak of nature. I thought that we would see some decline the past couple of years because of all the pitches he has thrown, but it just hasn’t happened. He could just be one of those guys blessed with an arm that will seemingly go on forever. His mechanics help too, as they aren’t generally seen as high effort as a lot of guys with his kind of velocity. I mean the guy has hit 100 in the 8th and 9th inning of games this season. He doesn’t seem affected.