For the most part, the Detroit Tigers' starting pitchers have done a very good job, with the notable exception being Justin Verlander. Heading into the All-Star break, Verlander is 8-8 with a 4.88 ERA, and wasn't named to All-Star team for the first time in six years. He gave up 52 runs in 11 starts in May and June, compared to 36 runs during those two months in 2013. While pitching coach Jeff Jones and manager Brad Ausmus have been working with Verlander on correcting some mechanical flaws, it remains a work in progress.
Heading into the All-Star break, the Detroit Tigers' bullpen has compiled a less-than-stellar 11-11 record. The biggest disappointment has been closer Joe Nathan. After last year's career year, in which he went 6-2 with a 1.39 ERA and 43 saves, Nathan is 4-2 with a 5.61 ERA and 19 saves. But pitching coach Jeff Jones and bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer have worked with Nathan to correct his arm slot, which has resulted in a 1.80 ERA in his last five outings.
Shaky outfield defense
The bullpen isn't the only area where the Detroit Tigers have struggled this season. Outfielders Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter and Rajai Davis have been shaky defensively. The addition of J.D. Martinez has certainly boosted the outfielders' stats, both offensively and defensively. But the Tigers' .983 fielding percentage ranks No. 23 in the league. While Martinez's Wins Above Replacement of 2.5 is consistent with an average starter, Jackson (1.3) and Davis (1.1) fall into the numbers a reserve player would record, while Hunter (-.9) is contributing at a replacement player level.
Ann Heisenfelt/APAnn Heisenfelt
After the diagnosis of Jose Iglesias' season-ending shin injury, the Detroit Tigers cycled through Alex Gonzalez, Andrew Romine and Danny Worth at shortstop, with little success. Gonzalez, who hit .167 in 30 at-bats, was released in April, and Worth replaced the veteran on the Tigers' roster. Worth hit .167 with 12 strikeouts and five RBIs before the Tigers outrighted his contract to Toledo in early June. Romine has six RBIs and one home run in 52 games with Detroit but has played sparingly. For now, the Tigers seem to have found the answer to their shortstop woes after calling up rookie Eugenio Suarez from Triple-A Toledo.
Cabrera's lack of power
Although Miguel Cabrera is leading the league in both doubles (34) and RBIs (75) and is hitting .306 with 14 home runs, his power output has decreased this season. Cabrera's .534 slugging percentage is his lowest since 2004, and his .227 isolated power is at its lowest since 2009. Before the All-Star Game in Minnesota, Cabrera admitted he's still recovering from offseason surgery to repair a torn groin, which could be affecting his power output.