The Detroit Tigers finished their road trip 1-5 and are off to a 7-14 start. Should the fans panic? The stats show some progress.

By Rogelio Castillo (Follow on Twitter @rogcastbaseball)

With the spotlight on the Detroit Lions this weekend because of the NFL Draft, the Detroit Tigers took a back seat among the Detroit fan base. The good feeling of the 13-0 win over the Rockies has been washed away.

Fans are getting worried if this will hinder Detroit later in the season. Yesterday’s loss against the Dodgers was an ugly one as bad defense lead to two unearned earns in the 6-3 loss on Sunday. The bad defense seemed to haunt Detroit throughout the series. Detroit has allowed 18 unearned runs this season after 21 games. Last season, it was just four.

The injuries are piling up as the Tigers announced that Tyler Alexander will be the fourth starter to hit the IL this season with elbow pain.
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There is plenty to get mad about, but there are several factors that make this 2022 start different from their bad start in 2021.

The Detroit Tigers bullpen is holding it together

The 2022 bullpen has been keeping Detroit in games. They are ranked number one in ERA at 1.97 and factor in FIP, it’s still under 3. (2.89). While you want to see the K per 9 be higher (currently ranked 24th in the league at 8.17), Will Vest (10.38), Alex Lange (11.74), Joe Jimenez (11.88) and Wily Peralta (11.37) have been picking up the slack, all in small sample sizes.

Michael Fulmer has not allowed a run now in 22.1 innings of work, going back to last season. Peralta’s average velocity is up (95 compared to 94) and Jimenez has gotten rid of a mitt tapping he would do before he set and pitch. While that might not even play a factor, it is worth noting.

As far as the starting rotation is concerned, there has been better starts as of late. With the amount of injuries to the staff, it should come as no surprise that the bullpen has taken the heavy load. Detroit starters are third to last among all of baseball in wins from their starting rotation.

But a stat that much more important to look at is their K per 9 as a starting rotation. It ranks 29th at 6.54. That will need to improve as the month starts.

The lack of power is the biggest concern

Looking back through the first 21 games of last season, the amount of runs scored was identical to this season at 67 but the amount of hits this year (159) is up from last season (139) but it is the lack of power among the regular nine that has been the biggest weakness so far.

Last season, they had 25 home runs through 21 games but this year, 10. Until yesterday, in which Miguel Cabrera and Jeimer Candelario went deep, Anthony Rizzo of the New York Yankees had more homers (9) than the Tigers did as a collective.

The road trip was bad, make no mistake. The injuries are taking their toll, but it’s not the only factor holding Detroit back. However, there are some highlights to mention. Austin Meadows and Javier Baez have been huge factors in Detroit’s seven wins.

Robbie Grossman had a good road trip and is now tied for second on the team in hits. Another newcomer, Tucker Barnhart, after a slow start, has been hitting as he went 6-for-14 on the road trip for a .429 batting average.

As simple as it sounds, Detroit will need to hit for more power to survive a schedule that will not get any easier. After the two games against Pittsburgh, Detroit hits the road again to take on Houston. If you recall, last year, Detroit won the series there and played better baseball. Then Detroit plays Oakland for five games before Baltimore comes in next weekend then it’s Tampa, Cleveland and the Twins (again) all on the road.

As for Detroit fans, enjoy the glowing NFL Draft grades and wait for the power to come back on.

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