Quick Start off the Block Means Nothing Without A Detroit Tigers First Place World Series Finish

Fair or not, nothing the Detroit Tigers do this regular season matters.

Yes, even their eye-popping 11-game road win streak that was snapped Monday night in Cleveland.

The Tigers are a very good team, a championship caliber squad in fact, with arguably the best hitter in the sport with Miguel Cabrera and two of the top three or four starters in the game today with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.

So their MLB-best 27-13 record isn't as out of this world as most would make it. Impressive? Yes. The end all be all? No.

This Tigers team has to win a World Series.

Period. Anything else is a failure.

Let's face it. The regular season hasn't been their problem. They have won the American League Central three years in a row.

They have gone to the ALCS three years in a row and made it to the World Series in 2012.

But they lost to the San Francisco Giants in a four-game sweep, where the Tigers scored just six runs. It was a feeble effort, to say the least.

Last season, they were the heavy favorites to win the title. But they were knocked out of the League Championship Series by the Boston Red Sox, who went on to win the Fall Classic.

Enter 2014. The Tigers, mostly because of their stud rotation, were once again deemed as the team to beat this season.

The Tigers are trying to get to the ALCS for the fourth straight year. The last team to do that was the New York Yankees (1998-2001). And the Yankees won three World Series titles.

The Yankees dominated. The Tigers have floundered.

In 1984, the Tigers got off to a 35-5 start. They were the story of baseball. Still, it was about the postseason for that team. That incredible start to the season wouldn't mean much if the Tigers didn't win the World Series.

It's been 30 years since they raised the championship banner in Motown. Fans have been dying for another title.

The one thing that has to scare Tigers' fans about this super team is the bullpen. It was their undoing last season in the ALCS. The Tigers got unbelievable starting pitching against the Red Sox. But the bullpen gave up two huge grand slams late to take the series and knock the Tigers out of the postseason earlier than expected.

The Tigers entered Monday night's game with the best starters' ERA in the game at 2.64. But the bullpen is 10th in the AL with a bloated 4.17 ERA.

That's why every time the Tigers' bullpen performs poorly, blows a lead or gives up a game, it takes Tigers' fans back to last season.

Bullpen meltdowns following great starts.

And although the bullpen had settled down from a rocky start in April, it should still be a concern.

The Tigers lost to the Cleveland Indians on a walk-off homer in the 10th inning Monday night. The bullpen took the loss.

Of all the guys in the pen, Joba Chamberlain appears to be key. He has to be able to get the ball to closer Joe Nathan. If not, Nathan could be rendered null and void.

You saw that in a 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Mother's Day in Detroit where Nathan wasn't able to close out a game that looked to be in the bag when the Tigers were leading 3-0 going to the top of the eighth inning.

Nathan has been lights outs after a slow start to the season.

You don't want to overreact to a bad outing or two because the pen appeared to have righted itself.

New manager Brad Ausmus is still convinced he has what he needs in the pen to keep winning. "I still have complete faith, especially the back half the way it's been set up since the first 10 games of the season," he said. "It's kind of settled down. Guys have settled into roles.

"You're not going to win every game when you have a lead late, but we're going to win the vast majority of them with the way the guys are throwing now."

Still, it appears the bullpen will decide if this team is finally a champion in the fall or just another pretty girl at the prom.

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