Max Sherzer fanned nine and only gave up one run in the Tigers 5-1 win over the Angels. (courtesy of Mlive.com)

The Detroit Tigers continue to be one of the hottest teams in all of baseball and now have a chance to overtake the Chicago White Sox for first place in the AL Central.  They now sit just two games back of the Sox.  The Tigers beat the LA Angels 5-1 on Thursday to take the four-game series 3-1.  In the Tigers’ last 11 series, they’ve won 8, lost two and split one.  The two series they lost were against the Texas Rangers and the Pittsburgh Pirates, two teams that would be playoff teams if the season ended today.  They’re 11-4 in the month of July and needless to say, the Tigers have turned their season around and now look like legitimate contenders in the American League.

Now just because I think the Tigers are contenders doesn’t mean I don’t think they need help.  The Tigers are in desperate need for another starting pitcher, especially due to the lack of consistency from Rick Porcello so far this season.  It appears that Porcello just isn’t a good fit with the Tigers, and it may behoove GM Dave Dombrowski to seek a trade for the 23-year-old pitcher.  This season, he’s near the bottom of the league in WHIP.  When successful, Porcello gets a ton of ground ball outs.  That type of pitcher can’t excel with one of the worst defensive infields in all of baseball.  Although I do think Porcello is a middle of the road starter and could have success with a quality NL defensive team, it appears that his run as a starter with the Tigers may be nearing its end.  Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder aren’t going anywhere and the Tigers don’t have any stud defensive middle infielders coming up through their farm system.  A ground ball pitcher who doesn’t strike anyone out just doesn’t fit with this team.

(courtesy of the Detroit Free Press)

The Tigers have recently been linked to having interest in several starting pitchers, including Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, James Shields, Zach Greinke and Cole Hamels.  Hamels appears to be close to signing an extension with the Phillies and would probably cost too much for a rental player.  Greinke would also likely demand a price the Tigers aren’t willing to pay.  That leaves Dempster, Garza and Shields.  Out of those three, I think Garza is the most attractive option.  Garza is younger than Dempster and has experience pitching in the American League.  Garza’s career stats are more impressive than Dempster’s, although Dempster is having a better year.  Although Garza and Shields have similar career numbers, the Cubs are more willing to move Garza than the Rays would be to move Shields.  The Cubs are sellers and the Rays are still fighting for a possible wild card spot.  This could mean that Garza could be had for less.  I believe that Garza could be had for Porcello and a couple of mid-level prospects.

There may be a pitcher off the radar that could be acquired over the next 12 days.  Remember, Doug Fister’s name wasn’t mentioned much before last year’s deadline.  Here’s a good article about that very fact by Mlive’s Chris Iott.  It should be noted that the Tigers should NOT include stud prospect Nick Castellanos in any trade.  There just isn’t a pitcher available that’s worth giving up a youngster with the bat that Castellanos has.  Expect the Tigers to wait until just before the July 31 trading deadline to make a move, as teams like the Cubs continue to field calls for their pitching commodities to try and maximize their return.

The Tigers will also be in the market for another infielder.  Expect them to add a solid second baseman to add depth to a weakness in the middle.  Their aren’t any big names available at second, so don’t expect a blockbuster trade for that position.

Although there may be a shakeup with the roster over the next couple of weeks, the Tigers have more important business to attend to this weekend.  They will host the White Sox with first place on the line.  The Tigers will send their ace Justin Verlander to the mound on Friday.  Porcello will get another chance to save his job with the team on Saturday, and Jacob Turner will look to bounce back from a disastrous last outing on Sunday.

-Sam Plymale

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