Paul Wezner, Senior Editor
Certainly for that to happen, a lot of things have to go right. The rotation has to continue to be effective, including some pithcers either pitching over their head (Maroth) or someone else taking the next step up (either Verlander or Robertson). The club also has an extremely injury-prone lineup, and though they have already dealt with a couple injuries, it's nothing compared to the stretch of last year - and it's almost a guarantee they'll hit another rough patch. However, this team seems to be a bit different, there's a different attitude about the club this year as opposed to last season with Alan Trammell - there's an aura of confidence that just wasn't there. Come Labor Day, the Tigers might not be in the lead in the wild card race, but they'll be in striking distance. A big July acquisition to beef up the middle of the order (either at third base or in left field/designated hitter) could very well push this team over the edge and help them make a playoff push for the first time since the Reagan administration.
Mark Anderson, Associate Editor, Minor Leagues
I'm not so sure the Tigers are going to remain in the Wild Card slot come September. Pretty much everything that could go right, has gone right (including Dmitri to the DL for a while) so far this season. The Tigers are bound to hit an extended rough patch, it's just the law of averages. How they react to that, will be very telling as to their success this season. If the Tigers are going to remain in the hunt, its going to take a leap of maturity for a relatively young and inexperienced (post-season wise) team. They are going to have to fight it out with teams like Boston, New York, Toronto, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Oakland, who all figure to be in the mix down to the final month of the season. With a crop of talented teams like that, the Tigers are going to have their work cut out for them. The second half has not been kind to the Tigers in recent years, and that trend will have to change this year. In short, I'm not sure the Tigers will be in this position in September, but they should be close enough that the games this fall will be meaningful for the first time in a long time.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I will rain on the parade and say no. The Tigers are off to a great start, but I think the lineup can be beaten by quality pitching due to the lack of plate discipline the Tigers have, and the rotation is unproven in pitching in a pennant race. It also doesn't help that Kenny Rogers has a 4.80 ERA after the All-Star break over the last three years. You also have to factor in that the Tigers will have plenty of competition for a playoff spot, and they don't have the consistency that the other contenders can provide, both from a hitting and pitching standpoint. If the Tigers go into a offensive slump, they can't manufacture runs, because outside of Curtis Granderson and Carlos Guillen, nobody draws walks. Jeremy Bonderman has had his ups and downs, and Justin Verlander hasn't thrown more than the 119 innings he threw last year. How will he look when he reaches 150 innings, and more importantly, will the Tigers shut him down to not tax his arm further? There's too many question marks right now for me to think this team can contend, but that could change in a couple months if they are still hanging around.
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