Detroit Tigers Looking Like Legitimate World Series Contenders

Miguel Cabrera Detroit Tigers NewsThe Detroit Tigers are set, and the team will not be making another move as the July 31 trade deadline nears.

This is what Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told MLB.com’s Jason Beck on Monday after the club acquired starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante for top pitching prospect Jacob Turner, Futures Game participant and catcher Rob Brantly and Double-A left-hander Brian Flynn.

If Dombrowski is not bluffing, and the Tigers do not make more trades, do they have enough to play deep into October? As long as Justin Verlander, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera remain healthy, the answer is a resounding yes.

With Verlander, the Tigers can trot out one of the best in the majors three times in a seven-game series. With the addition of Sanchez, a 28-year-old right-hander who is a free agent this off-season, the Tigers have a formidable rotation that also features Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello.

Sanchez, who hails from the same hometown as Cabrera (Maracay, Venezuela), is 5-7 with a 3.94 ERA this season for the disappointing Marlins. He does have 110 strikeouts in 121 innings, and he has surrendered 119 hits, so those numbers are respectable.

Sanchez’s career record is just 44-45, but his ERA is 3.75 and last season he struck out 202 in 196.1 innings. The former Red Sox farmhand who was a major part of the deal that sent Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston after the 2005 season is a durable middle of the rotation arm.

He bolsters the Tigers starting corp that was weakened when rookie left-hander Drew Smyly landed on the disabled list with right intercostal muscle strain.

With five established major league starters, including last year’s American League Cy Young and MVP, the Tigers have solidified themselves as a legitimate World Series contender.

Since Sanchez is the lone pending free agent, and Smyly is just a rookie, the Tigers have five solid starting pitchers under team control, thus the reason Dombrowski felt he could part with Turner, who was Detroit’s first round draft pick in 2009 and won his first major league game on Sunday.

While Sanchez upgrades the rotation, the 30-year-old Infante should give the Tigers more production than they had been getting at second base. Ramon Santiago, who is best suited as a utility infielder, is hitting .216 while Danny Worth has a .215 average.

Infante, who played for the Tigers from 2002-2007,  was batting .287 with eight home runs, 33 RBI and 10 stolen bases for the Marlins.

Considering they have a stacked lineup that features Fielder and Cabrera, and productive bats like Brennan Boesch, Delmon Young and Jhonny Peralta, the Tigers did not need an All-Star slugger at second base. Yet Infante represents a significant improvement over Santiago and Worth.

Detroit is 52-44 and owns a one-game lead over second place Chicago in the American League Central. With the addition of Sanchez to the rotation and Infante to the lineup, the Tigers appear to be the favorite to win the division. With Verlander and the deep rotation, the club matches up well against the potent lineups of the Yankees, Rangers and Angels.

 


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