Eugenio Suarez has been a life-saver...or at least a trade-saver for Detroit. The Tigers didn't end up going after free agent shortstop Stephen Drew and costing themselves a first-round draft pick as compensation. And that was because they wanted to give Suarez, 22, a shot. Since June 4, Suarez has batted .265 with three homers and 11 RBI in 98 at-bats. He's faded a bit since the fast start, but perked up just before the All-Star break, and has been good defensively. Pitchers are beginning to see him for the second time, and there will be adjustments to be made. And he knows he needs to lay off low breaking balls. But he has a focus and energy that suggest he will succeed. And if he does, it will make for an interesting decision this winter between him and slick-fielding Jose Iglesias. (Steve Kornacki)
Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsKim Klement
What will happen when Dirks comes back?
The Tigers don't really need Andy Dirks, whose return to Detroit has been slowed by inflammation that developed in his back this week. He's been Wall Pipped by J.D. Martinez, who has played like an All-Star ever since coming up from Toledo. Since there's no plan to platoon anybody in the regular starting outfield rotation -- Torii Hunter, Austin Jackson, Rajai Davis and Martinez -- Dirks would be returning as a bench player. Although Don Kelly is a much more versatile reserve than Dirks, Kelly likely would be discarded to bring up Dirks. That's because Andrew Romine is the only player on the roster who can spell rookie shortstop Suarez. So, Romine has to stay. The Tigers may or may not have Dirks healthy when the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline arrives, but they should look to trade him if he's able. (Steve Kornacki)
Will Trader Dave make headlines at the trade deadline?
There's no need for a blockbuster deal as long as the main contributors remain healthy. One more experienced bullpen arm is needed, and that's where Dirks could fill the bill. Unless Dombrowski can package three marginal prospects for a good reliever, Dirks is the best trade bait for such a deal. Joaquin Benoit, who was Detroit's closer most of last season, keeps coming up as a possibility. But he's due some major coin ($8 million in 2015) and somebody like Chad Qualls ($3 million next year) makes a lot more sense. Both have been dominant this year, however, I really like the way Qualls challenges hitters and he's better insurance should something go awry with closer Joe Nathan. I don't believe the Tigers see Benoit as a closer anymore. (Steve Kornacki)
David Manning-USA TODAY SportsDavid Manning
Who will end up being Detroit's MVP candidate?
Miguel Cabrera has won two consecutive AL MVP awards, and he can't be ruled out in winning another. Cabrera leads the majors with 75 RBI, but his .306 average indicates he probably won't win a fourth straight batting title. And while his homers are way down at 14, his doubles total of 34 easily leads the AL. Victor Martinez (.328, 21 homers and 55 RBI) could challenge for the batting title and is one of the game's most-feared hitters. All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler (.303, 11 homers and 51 RBI) could emerge as a strong candidate. He has made spectacular plays while making only two errors, and could win a Gold Glove. He's third in the AL with 64 runs scored and fifth with 115 hits. He's also tied for fourth with 26 doubles and tied for 18th in RBI. (Steve Kornacki)
What can we expect from the (Baseball) Brothers Martinez in the second half?
Victor Martinez is expected back after the All-Star break after resting the side-back injury that has kept him out since July 4. If he's OK, Detroit has its formidable cleanup hitter back for the stretch run. But what if this ends up being an oblique injury? The Tigers can get to the playoffs without Martinez, but won't win it all without V-Mart. So, assuring his full health in October is what matters most. Look for Detroit to be very careful with him. J.D. Martinez has become the cleanup hitter, and has enabled the offense to function normally. Can he keep up his current pace? Probably not, but he will prove to be very good. I like the fact that he goes the opposite way and makes successful adjustments. (Steve Kornacki)