Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
While there are certainly a number of factors that one can point to - a decrease in batting average with runners in scoring position, or late game miscues by numerous culprits, it all comes down to one thing; health. The Tigers did not build a team that could withstand a lot of injuries, and the team is having trouble picking up the slack with a rash of injuries. So, with two members of the rotation on the shelf, the team's top setup man, arguably their best hitter, and another member of the regular lineup, things are tough. If the general health of the team improves, having better players on the whole will help get the team out of this funk. Without improved health, the team will continue to have to force players into roles that the player simply cannot fill at a high level. And if that happens, the Tigers will likely find themselves at home for the winter come the first week of October.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
The Tigers current skid is a function of a few things. The larger part -- in my opinion -- is that this team was bound to hit a rough patch. They were playing so well for much of the year, it is nearly impossible to maintain that success. In addition, the Tigers just don't have all of their horses at full health right now; Sheff's shoulder is on the fritz, Miller and Rogers are on the DL, Rodney just came back, Zumaya is still out, Inge still has an injured foot, and Guillen is never really 100%. Teams can't expect to maintain high end performance with that type of mash unit. It is only a matter of time before it catches up with you and bites hard for a while. Good teams are those that win a bunch of games over the course of the season. Great teams are those that overcome something of significant to win in spite of the odds. This Tiger team has great potential, and I believe they will bounce back and make it a very interesting race down the stretch.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I think you have to look at the starting pitching as being the main culprit. Quality starts have been nonexistent over the last three weeks. Jeremy Bonderman hasn't even given the Tigers a chance with poor first innings in his last two starts, and since the All-Star Break, all of the starters sans Jordan Tata, who has made only two starts, has an ERA under five. Justin Verlander has a 5.04 ERA, while Bonderman (8.10), Andrew Miller (6.08), Nate Robertson (5.47), and Kenny Rogers (9.98) have all struggled immensely. Injuries also continue to kill this team. Rogers and Miller reside on the disabled list, as does Marcus Thames and Joel Zumaya, not to mention Gary Sheffield's bum shoulder, and when the starters went into the tank, things got ugly fast. They can get back on track, but they must have success against Tampa Bay and Oakland, because if this team heads into their crucial stretch against the Yankees and Indians looking as they do now, it will be time to give the kids an extended look in September.
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