Howard is a big-time slugger

It's time for a dip into the Insider mailbag, as we lay out the chips and dip and don a suit of full body armor in the event Kenny Rogers drops by the house for a chat.

The Tigers have made some great progress the past two years. However, if you told me at the beginning of the year that the Tigers would have a 3.86 team ERA, fifth best in the AL, I would expect them to be at least five games over .500 and in contention. They are 10-15 in one-run games, despite having one of the better bullpens in the AL, and they've had runners on third base with less than two outs at least five times in the past two games against the White Sox and haven't gotten the runs home. So, I understand when people say, "Wow the Tigers are really improving," and "the Tigers are on the right track," but if their pitching continues to do this well, there is no reason they should not contend this year. The biggest difference between the Tigers and White Sox is that the White Sox are doing the little things to win those one-run games and the Tigers aren't. And with the lineup the Tigers have, that's not acceptable.

– Nathan, Wixom, Mich.