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Detroit Tigers' woes worrisome ahead of tough road trip

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(CBS DETROIT) - As the days of summer are getting longer, the Detroit Tigers' leash is getting shorter.

For a team now three games under .500, they can't afford to fall any further, as injuries, a lack of offense and inconsistent pitching make the climb much more difficult. Their upcoming schedule doesn't make things any easier, with a six-game road series against Houston and Atlanta.

It hasn't been an easy week.

Shortstop Javy Baez was placed on the IL with lumbar spine inflammation, Reese Olson got roughed up for a third straight start, and the Tigers made four costly errors in two games against the Nationals.

MLB: JUN 12 Nationals at Tigers
DETROIT, MI - JUNE 12: Detroit Tigers pitcher Reese Olson (45) during the Detroit Tigers versus the Washington Nationals game on Wednesday June 12, 2024 at Comerica Park in Detroit, MI. Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Despite being 3.5 games back of a Wild Card spot halfway through June, the team doesn't scream "playoff bound." Sure, they have a clear front-runner for the American League Cy Young Award in Tarik Skubal, but aside from him, any sort of hope sporadically comes in bits and pieces.

Tigers starter Jack Flaherty is showing signs of his old self, posting a 3.22 ERA while ranking in the Top 10 in the MLB in strikeouts. He's been fun to watch on the mound, but how much longer could he stay in Detroit? The Tigers signed him to a one-year, $14 million deal, and if he keeps dealing, he's going to seek a bigger contract in the off-season.

Detroit Tigers v Texas Rangers
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JUNE 04: Jack Flaherty #9 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field on June 04, 2024 in Arlington, Texas. / Getty Images

Of course, the Tigers are no stranger to a sign-and-ship mentality, signing a player to a short-term deal, hoping they catch lightning in a bottle, then haul them for prospects at the deadline. For the last decade, the Tigers have been on that side of the deadline, and if they don't go on a crazy run, they could once again be in that same boat.

As far as the offense goes, there's a handful of bright spots. Gio Urshella can flat-out hit, leading the team with a .287 AVG despite a lack of power. Matt Vierling is having somewhat of a breakout season with 29 RBI, 8 HR and 4 triples. Riley Greene leads the team with 12 homers, surpassing his total from last season in 30 fewer games.

Washington Nationals v Detroit Tigers
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JUNE 11: Gio Urshela #13 of the Detroit Tigers at bat against the Washington Nationals at Comerica Park on June 11, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. Nic Antaya / Getty Images

The same can't be said for the rest of the lineup. From Kerry Carpenter's unknown timetable of returning from injury, Spencer Torkelson's lack of

production and demotion to Triple-A, and another abysmal season from Javy Baez, things aren't exactly looking up. Aside from Urshella, Vierling, Andy Ibanez and Wenceel Perez, the rest of the team has a batting average below .250.

Last season, the Tigers finished 9-18 for the month of June. This season, they're on track to do the same. And if things don't turn around quickly, it may start to feel like "wait until next year" all over again.

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