After being lambasted for questionable moves at the trading deadline over the past few seasons that have not paid off, Tigers’ GM, Dave Dombrowski has made all the right moves this season and assembled the best team in the American League since August 1 with a 22-11 record while building a 7.5 game lead over the Indians.
The key move came on July 30th when Dombrowski sent four role players and mid-level prospects to Seattle for an overlooked pitching star-in-the-making with an unfortunate last name, Doug Fister. The Tigers’ GM was able to past his poor 3-12 record and saw that his poor record was due to the Mariners scoring only 1.97 runs per game for him—the lowest for any pitcher in the AL. Since the trade, the 6′-8″ giant has gone 4-1 with a stunning 2.64 ERA and 1.04 WHIP while racking up 36 strikeouts against only 4 walks, culminating in yesterday’s 13 K domination of second place Cleveland. Those kinds of numbers would put him in the top slot of most rotations, but Fister has to settle for the #2 slot behind soon-to-be AL MVP, Justin Verlander, in a rotation that is now as feared as any in the league and primed for a long playoff run.
Other less heralded, yet shrewd maneuvers include the addition of Wilson Betemit and waiver acquisition of Delmon Young from division rivals Kansas City and Minnesota respectively. While I was not initially in favor of the move for Betemit, the switch-hitter has added the depth and versatility manager Jim Leyland has been looking for, batting .290 with three home runs and 14 RBIs as a platoon player. It’s hard to admit, but I was wr… wro… wr… wrong. Delmon Young made a huge splash in his Tigers debut with a home run in his first at-bat and has filled the #3 hole quite nicely, batting .300 with 17 RBIs in his 20 games with the club.
As we head down the stretch, the Tigers superior pitching and batting depth has proven to be too much for division foes, Cleveland and Chicago. Their lead in the AL Central has ballooned from 2 games on August 1 to 7.5 today culminating with the death blow sweep of the White Sox over the weekend, out-scoring the sagging South Siders 35-11.
Game One saw Verlander easily get his 21st win, befuddling Sox’ bats in an 8-1 laugher. Game Two was the back-breaker. Detroit came back from a 7-run deficit in the 5th to win on a mammoth walk-off shot by Miguel Cabrera that is still sending shockwaves around the Midwest. The Mercy Rule should’ve been invoked in Game Three as the Tigers destroyed the Sox’ 18-2 on national television in a display that will give South Side children nightmares and make their mothers weep for years to come.
Only one man, my counterpart, Peter Verniere, has not lost hope for the obviously doomed White Sox. I have to admire his courage in the face of such insurmountable odds. Keep reaching for that rainbow, Pete.