Somehow, someway, the Detroit Tigers are nearing the .500 mark this season.
Their year started out miserably, and at one point, the team was 15 games below .500 at 9-24.
But today, the Tigers are 45-51 and currently riding a five-game winning streak.
Detroit is certainly not a threat to sneak into the postseason, but the club has played some much better baseball lately.
For a team in the midst of a rebuild, a .500 finish is all you can really ask for.
So, how have the Tigers done it?
After looking like the laughing stock of the league in April, they’ve been able to return to respectable territory.
Let’s break it down.
2. Miguel Cabrera Has Started To Carry His Weight Lately
Most fans recognize that Miguel Cabrera’s best days are behind him, and that the Tigers’ contract situation with the future Hall of Famer is less than ideal.
It looked like Cabrera hit rock bottom during the first half of the 2021 season, as was batting just .184 with a .543 OPS through the end of May.
But lately, Cabrera has been able to channel some of his better years.
He is on a tear, and the Tigers are winning ballgames as a result.
Since June 14, the 38-year-old is slashing .313/.343/.417 over 26 games.
— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) July 20, 2021
He’s not exactly hitting for power like he used to, but during this stretch, he has been able to hit for average in a big way.
It’s great to see.
1. The Pitching Staff Has Been Exceptional
If Detroit’s 2021 season is going to be remembered for anything, it will probably be known as the year that the team established some young studs on the pitching staff.
Casey Mize has been one of the Tigers’ best starters this season, and he’s just 24 years old.
The 2021 season is technically his rookie campaign, and he figures to get Rookie of the Year votes at this rate.
Over 18 starts, he has a 3.44 ERA, 125 ERA+, and 1.11 WHIP.
The Tigers are 11-7 when he gets the ball.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 13, 2021
After Mize, you’ve got another promising rookie in Tarik Skubal.
He is showing signs of potential with a 4.18 ERA, 103 ERA+, and 1.33 WHIP.
Next up, 26-year-old Gregory Soto has emerged as a great relief option.
He has a 2.84 ERA and a 3.44 FIP across 40 outings.
Let’s give second-year hurler Kyle Funkhouser a shoutout, too.
He has a 2.27 ERA and 3.46 FIP over 26 relief appearances.
Detroit’s pitching staff has allowed a total of five runs during its five-game winning streak, and it looks like the organization is starting to establish an identity for the future: winning through elite pitching.
The Tigers might still be several years away from being legitimate playoff contenders, but their encouraging 2021 season is a sight for sore eyes.
With a lot of young stars on the rise, Detroit could become relevant much sooner than expected.
It will be interesting to see what the upcoming trade deadline looks like for this club.
Detroit would be wise to unload any players on expiring deals, but the team should try to keep all of its young studs at home in the Motor City.