The Detroit Tigers barley won the AL Central again this season, waiting until the final day to clinch; however, they did win their fourth straight division title. This is perhaps the last shot for this Tigers team with some big names on this roster becoming free agents after the season. Let’s see what needs to happen to make sure a Detroit Tigers postseason ends with a World Series trophy.
Play to talent level
On paper, the Detroit Tigers should be the favorite to win the World Series. They have the best rotation in the playoffs, and they have arguably the best hitter in the game when healthy in Miguel Cabrera. It’s been this way for the past three seasons for the Tigers, but yet they seem to battle themselves through the regular season to win what’s been a terrible division, and then they fall short of expectations in the playoffs. If this team can just finally play up to their talent level, they’re going to have a lot of success this postseason.
Avoid the bullpen
This is a pretty easy one. It’s no secret that the Tigers’ bullpen has been the biggest reason why they’ve struggled in the past. We saw it in a regular season game a few weeks ago when David Price was left on the mound in the ninth inning, even though he was clearly tiring, because manager Brad Ausmus was afraid to use closer Joe Nathan. The biggest key for the Tigers this postseason will be getting a lot of innings from their big-three starters, and limiting the amount of times Ausmus has to go to his bullpen.
J.D. Martinez was a huge boost to the Tigers’ offense during the regular season, and they’re going to need that to continue in the postseason. We know what guys like Ian Kinsler, Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter are going to do, but the Tigers need that X-factor in Martinez to give them the extra spark on offense.
Play with urgency
As noted previously, the Tigers seem to play sluggish ball during the regular season before trying to turn it up in the postseason, yet they can’t seem to sustain that much-needed sense of urgency. This year, they need to come out of the gates on fire and maintain that level throughout the playffs. In all likelihood, this could be the last shot for this Tigers team. Max Scherzer could be gone after the season, and Cabrera is on a small decline based on his standards. Plus, this is the last year on Hunter’s contract, and who doesn’t want to see him get a World Series so he can ride off into the sunset and become a TV analyst?
I’ve already mentioned Martinez as a spark for this offense, but Rajai Davis is another player who can give the Tigers a boost this postseason. He’s by far the team’s best base stealer, swiping 36 during the regular season. However, Davis’ .320 OBP this year isn’t anything to write home about. The Tigers need him to get on more frequently to get their run game going and set up the middle of the lineup with RBI opportunities.