News and notes heading into the second half

The Tigers began the second half of the season yesterday with a disappointing 1-0 loss to the Royals.  Ervin Santana held and two relievers held the Tigers to two hits on the night.  Before the second half begins I wanted to recap the All Star Game and Home Run Derby before looking ahead.

Curtis was able to watch the Home Run Derby and had this to say about it:

Many Detroit Tiger fans had high hopes for this year’s Home Run Derby.  Their guy, Prince Fielder won the event last year and was selected to participate in this year too.

Fielder started off the competition as the defending champion, but Fielder only hit five in the first round and was unable to advance to the next round.

Even though he did not advance, Fielder still wants to attempt a chance for a third Home Run Derby crown, according to Jason Beck.  “Yeah, it would be cool,” Fielder admitted.
Here is what else Prince had to say about his pick of Sandy Guerrero as his pitcher.  “I mean, obviously I’ve had him before,” Fielder said. “I’m comfortable with him throwing to me in the Derby. He’s a good friend as well, you know. He’s really helped me a lot.”

Since Prince was unable to defend his title, there had to be a new champion. The match-up in the finals was Oakland A’s slugger Yoenis Cespedes and Washington’s Bryce Harper. Cespedes ended up winning 9-8 in the final round.

“I don’t know if they can see this in Cuba, but the day before yesterday I spoke with my 4-year-old son who’s in Cuba and he asked me to dedicate the home runs to him,” Cespedes said in Spanish. “So I dedicate them to him and to the rest of my family.”  Congrats to the “Cuban Centipede.”

As for the All Star Game, Max Scherzer got the start and pitched a perfect inning with a strikeout.  The combination of Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, Torii Hunter and Prince Fielder combined to go 3 for 6.  The best moment of the night for Detroit came on this triple by Prince Fielder.  Yes triple.

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Detroit still has three main issues:

1. The offense

Even though this team has scored the second most runs this season with 477, second only to Boston’s 502, the offense still hasn’t clicked on all cylinders.  Victor Martinez is finally starting to hit, his average is up to .258 currently, but only Cabrera has hit with consistency all season.

Even Prince, Jhonny and Torii no mater how great they have played have still had issues at times throughout the year.  It is expected that no one will hit all season, but we are still waiting for everyone to be at their best at all times.

The ace up their sleeve that the team still has is Triple-A All Star Nick Castellanos waiting in Toledo.  Castellanos is hitting .285 with 12 home runs down on the farm, and it is only a matter of time before he makes his way to the big club.

2. The Bullpen

This is another issue that has plagued the team all season.  Putting Benoit in the closer position and moving Drew Smyly to the set-up position has stabilized the back-end of the ‘pen, but getting to the eighth inning can still be an issue.  The Tigers are still going to need to acquire at least one, maybe two bullpen arms if this team is going to succeed heading into October.  But more details on that later this week

3. JV’s FB MPH

This one has been interesting all season long, and ESPN’s Stats and Info put together a story on JV and his fastball velocity and effectiveness.

As you can see, his velocity has started to fall ever since the 2009 season.  We can speculate numerous reasons why that is: arm is breaking down, mechanics, self-preservation etc., but the fact is he is struggling right now.

Justin Verlander 95+ MPH Fastballs

Pct of
Fastballs
2013 256 21%
2012 958 46%
2011 1,268 57%
2010 1,516 68%
2009 1,882 74%

Unlike normal struggling pitchers who’s ERA’s jump into the mid-5’s, JV has had a rough season with an ERA of 3.50, 16th best in the American League.  So even as JV continues to work through his problems he is still pitching incredibly well. Honestly, this may be his most dominant season if you think about the fact that he is struggling and still one of the best pitchers in the American League.  When he gets it figured out again, look out AL batters.

Hopefully JV can keep working through his issues tonight against the Royals, starting at 7:10 pm.

So what do you think Tigers fans, does this team have different issues that I think, or is this the best they will be?  Let us know at DetroitSportsBloggers.com or on Facebook and Twitter.

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