The Detroit Tigers have been one of baseball’s best stories since the second half kicked off.
They are actually the hottest team in baseball, with a seven-game winning streak.
Detroit is actually 38-27 since May 8 (which is kind of an arbitrary date, but it works for the exercise) and 7-0 since the All-Star break.
Tigers have good things happening. They are a shocking 38-27 since May 8 and 7-0 since the All-Star break. Three games back of Cleveland for 2nd place in AL Central. Also: Torkelson, Greene and Dingler are big-time prospects.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 23, 2021
Their recent hot streak has put them very close to the Cleveland Indians for second place in the American League Central division, just three games behind.
Do the Tigers have a shot at making the playoffs via the Wild Card?
It seems to be a tall task at this point.
There Are Just Too Many Games To Overcome
Let’s face it: Detroit may be arriving ahead of schedule, which means they may be better than we all anticipated they would be in 2021.
However, only a limited number of teams make the playoffs every year, and they may have dug too deep of a hole earlier in the season.
Detroit is currently 47-51, nine games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second Wild Card spot in the junior circuit.
That’s a lot of games to make up in the standings with less than half of the season to go in the calendar.
And that’s not the only problem.
The Tigers have five additional teams between them and the Athletics in the Wild Card standings, so they would need to go on an historic winning streak and, additionally, wait for other teams to slowly fall out of the race.
It seems like a lot to ask from a franchise still in its rebuilding process.
Additionally, they would have to put a furious charge without their best starter this year.
Spencer Turnbull, who has a 2.88 ERA in 2021, is out for the year with ligament damage on his elbow, and will require Tommy John surgery.
The Future Is Bright In The Motor City
Detroit may not be able to make the playoffs this season, but there is no denying that their future is bright.
The other big-time pitching prospect in the organization, Matt Manning, has had issues missing bats to this point (10.5 percent strikeout rate, and a 5.79 ERA) but is coming off a quality start and seems to be improving.
Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene, Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo, Isaac Paredes… pic.twitter.com/kzZMjX4T3L
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) June 11, 2020
Back to the big league team, offense has been an issue for the Tigers in the last few years, but they have found some productive bats in 2021 that may be part of the next core.
Outfielder Robbie Grossman was a free-agent signing who is under contract for next season, at a reasonable $5 million price tag.
He is leading the team in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) with 1.6 and has 15 home runs and 12 stolen bases.
Fellow outfielder Akil Baddoo has gone from Rule 5 Draft pick to rookie sensation, slashing .268/.343/.472 with eight homers and 14 steals.
Jonathan Schoop is a free agent after this season and is actually a good trade deadline candidate.
The problem, for the Tigers, is that they still need to pay aging Miguel Cabrera $32 million per season until 2023.
Despite that, the Tigers are arriving, despite their low chances of making the playoffs in 2021.