Remember when the Detroit Tigers were named World Series favorites following the deadline deal that landed them David Price? Well, since August 1st, the Tigers have suffered, going 5-7, while the Kansas City Royals, have gone on a terrific streak, going 9-1 in the same span. After Monday night’s games, the Royals have surpassed the Tigers for sole possession of first.
The Royals were a trendy preseason pick, especially after going 17-10 last September, and clinching their first winning season since 2003. However, the Royals struggled early in the season, hovering around .500 through May until a 16-11 June, which featured a 10 game win streak, which briefly gave them sole possession of 1st. On May 29th, the Royals fired hitting coach Pedro Grifol after 364 days on the job, in favor of then 3rd base coach (and former Cubs skipper) Dale Sveum. Since then, the Royals have seen a turnaround in their hitting.
Pitching wasn’t an issue for the Royals, the staff is led by former Tampa Bay Ray, “Big Game” James Shields, the Royals have also seen key contributions from Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy. Their bullpen has been bolstered by closer, Greg Holland, who leads the American League with 34 saves. This Kansas City resurgence has been long awaited, for general manager, Dayton Moore. Moore, who has been the General Manager since June, 2006, has been preaching the “long rebuild”, and now, he is reaping the rewards.
Meanwhile, in Detroit, the David Price deal has certainly bolstered an already formidable rotation. However, in other categories, the Tigers are certainly lacking. The Joakim Soria acquisition has produced lackluster results, with Soria now on the disabled list. Depth is also a primary issue for the Tigers, as evidenced by Rajai Davis starting in center, and Eugenio Suarez at shortstop. The Tigers offense now primarily rests of the bat of two-time reigning MVP, Miguel Cabrera.
While teams often go into slumps like this, this slump may come at a inopportune time for the Tigers, who are under immense pressure to win it all this year, after a World Series visit in 2012, and an ALCS exit last year. The AL is incredibly competitive this year, and if the Tigers want to see the playoffs, they may have to win the division. If the playoffs started today, the Tigers would meet the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. With little in the farm system, and Max Scherzer a pending free agent, the Tigers’ last chance to win it all may be this year.