The pursuit of the Cy Young in Motown. Max Scherzer has been incredible so far this year. Scherzer has the most wins and strikeouts in the AL since the start of 2012 but I don’t think we’ve seen the best out of Scherzer yet. Statistically over the last three seasons with the Tigers, Scherzer has pitched his best baseball in the months of July, August and September. If the trend continues Scherzer could be in line for his first Cy Young Award of his career.
Resurgence of Justin Verlander. Despite Scherzer’s success over the last season and a half, if you had to pick one pitcher on the Tigers roster to start a must win game you’re probably still picking Verlander. He said he’s figured out his “issues” with tipping pitches and his mechanics. After watching him tossing 6 2/3 innings of no hit ball in his last start before the All-Star break it’s hard to doubt him. Outside shot here but If Verlander can put together a terrific second half, he could put his name back in the conversation for the Cy Young.
The chase for back-to-back Triple Crowns. Cabrera will without a doubt win his third straight batting title but will need Chris Davis’ unbelievable season to fade quickly in the second half to win the final two crowns. Davis strikes out a lot and the average has taken a dip of late, but Davis is still hitting home runs at a record pace while remaining within striking range of Cabrera’s lead in RBIs.
Back-to-back MVPs. Cabrera’s about as big a lock to win his second consecutive MVP Award as it gets. The Tigers failing to win the division would be the only way Cabby doesn’t become the first person since Frank Thomas in ‘93-94 to win back-to-back AL MVP Awards. Cabrera is also chasing hit #2000. He should get there sometime around mid-September.
Nick Castellanos’ major league debut. With Andy Dirks struggling at the plate, fans will be frequently begging for Castellanos to get called up. Be patient here, it won’t happen until September call-ups but the long awaited big league debut of the Tigers top hitting prospect will happen, but not until the end of Toledo’s season.
The rise of Victor Martinez’s batting average. Before the break there wasn’t a hotter hitter in baseball than V-Mart. He’s been making great contact on the ball all year and the rust of missing 2012 seems to be long gone. Slowly his average could creep into the .280-.290 range and he could finish the season with 15 HRs and 90+ RBIs.
Decreased amount of time behind the plate for Alex Avila. He won’t get sent down to Triple-A Toledo but to see an every other day platoon with Brayan Pena is certainly possible if Avila’s bat doesn’t start to pick up. Avila is hitting just .200 since coming off the DL on July 2nd.
A trade at the deadline. I don’t expect anything major like the last two years (Fister in 2011, Sanchez and Infante in 2012) but a minor upgrade to the bullpen is expected if not guaranteed.
The return of Papa Grande Part 2. It’s going to happen. Just warning you now.
The Tigers winning their third straight AL Central Title. The Tigers are way too talented not to pull away and win the Central. They have one of the easier schedules in baseball after the All-Star break and the only team that could challenge them are the Indians and let’s be real, while much improved, this is the Indians we are talking about.