Most recently, the Tigers eked out a win against the first place Royals [How weird does that look?] thereby avoiding getting swept in a 4 game series AT HOME. And it has been every bit as bad as that makes it sound.
After completing a sweep of the Red Sox in Boston on May 18th, the Tigers' run differential stood at 55 for the 39 games played up to that point. After game 67, on June 17th, a devastating 11-4 loss to the Royals, the run differential reached -2. In 28 games the Tigers had been outscored by 57 horrific runs. After splitting the next two games by identical 2-1 scores, they're again at -2.
There is no single cause. Starting pitching for anyone not named Anibal went from outstanding into a range between ordinary and dismal. Relief pitching gave no relief. Scoring evaporated to the extent that they were shut out 3 times in those 28 games, and averaged a mere 3.933 runs per game. This is scoring at the Seattle - Houston level, equivalent to 21st out of 30 MLB teams. This stretch also includes a 12-9 win over the Twins, and a game in Cleveland where they scored 10 runs and lost by 1.
As this suggests, pitching has been awful. The table shows the ERA's of the Tigers' rotation on the last start before arriving in Cleveland on May 19th, compared to now. Sanchez has been outstanding, Smyly ordinary, and the rest at times embarrassingly bad. We won't even look at the relief staff.
Now consider hitting. For simplicity, we'll just look at batting averages. Martinez, Marinez, and Cabrera have continued to produce, though Miggy is only hitting .259 for the latest 8 games. Castellanos has brought his average up. But Jackson, Hunter, and Kinsler have dropped off quite a bit.
After their win last night - a razor-thin 2-1 victory behind another brilliant start by Sanchez, an assist by Jaba, and Nathan finally having a strong 1-2-3 9th - I'd like to be optomistic. But Verlander is burned out, Scherzer's last start was ghastly, and Smyly can be erratic. Even worse, in the last 2 games, they've scored a total of three runs on 9 hits.
At their apex, the Tigers were on a pace to win 112 games. Now the projection is 87. There's a lot of season left, and plenty of time to turn this ship around.
But everything from pitching to hitting to fielding to base running will have to get a lot better.