Tigers failed in playoff berth, Ausmus' future should be in doubt

Tigers failed in playoff berth, Ausmus' future should be in doubt
Posted at 11:32 AM, Oct 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-03 11:37:27-04

The Tigers failed. There's no other way to look at the 2016 season.

There will be no make-up game today at Comerica Park against the AL Central division-winning Cleveland Indians. That's because Game No. 162 doesn't matter.

Many fans had hoped that the Tigers would have forced a play-in game Tuesday. Many had high hopes for a playoff berth - both before the season started and definitely in the final weeks when the Tigers played themselves back into position for a postseason spot.

Instead, the Tigers were eliminated from the postseason on Sunday, losing 1-0 to the lowly Atlanta Braves in Turner Field.

It was the Tigers' second straight loss to them in what were must-wins.

Hence, the Tigers will not be in the playoffs for the second straight season, despite a nearly $200-million payroll.

"Lot of hard work for naught," said Tigers' starter and loss Justin Verlander to the media after the game. "You can't say it was a wasted year because we battled and gave it everything we had.

"Key injuries hampered us for long stretches and we were the last (non-playoff team) standing."

It was so fitting how this team ended the season, crashing and burning when they held their own destiny in their hands when they got to Atlanta.

The last two games of the season had to burn at fans. The Tigers looked as if it were setup for them. They won Game 1 easily on Friday night.

But in the next two games, facing pitching most thought would be hittable, the Tigers struck out a whopping 27 times - including 12 times against Braves' starter and winner Julio Teheran. It tied his career-high. Bottom line remains that the Tigers were way too inconsistent all season. Too often, it was feast or famine.

It was because of it that the Tigers dug themselves such a hole early on and they had to use so much energy to dig themselves out.

The Tigers, not the Indians, should have won the Central. At least, on paper. But the Tigers just couldn't be the Indians, losing 15 of 18.

Many fans will use the excuse of injuries to justify why they are once again on the outside looking in.

It just doesn't work. Injuries are a part of the game. The New York Mets lost three-fifths of their starting rotation. Yet, manager Terry Collins was able to secure a wild card spot for his team that looked dead in the water when they visited Detroit in early August.

And the Indians won the division even though they lost their best player - Michael Brantley - practically all season.

That brings us to Tigers' manager Brad Ausmus. His future is up in the air. His three-year contract is done, but the Tigers have an option to pick up a fourth season or simply cut him loose.

The Tigers should look to upgrade the manager position. Ausmus' laidback approach just didn't work. The team finished in last place in 2015. This season, they failed to make the playoffs despite all the talent on the roster.

Ozzie Guillen might be the right guy to fire up this squad, get the most out of the talent assembled.

Ausmus, of course, wants to come back. But he knows it's not up to him.

"That's something I'm not worried about," Ausmus said. "It's going to be between me and (GM) Al (Avila).

"If Al thinks he would rather have somebody else, I would respect his decision. If Al would like me to do it, I would love to do it. To speculate is a waste of time. It's not even something that I'm worried about. Eventually, it will get resolved."

It will tell you a lot about Avila and ownership how this plays out.

The same can be said about the roster. Will they finally throw in the towel and realize they won't be able to get that World Series title for owner Mike Ilitch? Will the cut and slash or add payroll. The bullpen needs help and it will cost money.

Either way, this season was bad. Most didn't expect them to be going home already, instead of preparing for the postseason.

That's why the ending to the 2016 season will leave a mark.