Tigers top prospect Jacob Turner made his major league debut while the Tigers shuffled their roster after their trade with the Mariners. He took the loss but you can’t be too disappointed with how he pitched. He started off with four shutout innings before he gave up a run in the fifth then got charged a run in the sixth before getting pulled out as he came up to around 100 pitches. In all, he gave up two runs on three hits and three walks with six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. Phil Coke was hit hard and he gave up three runs in 2 1/3 and then Dan Schlereth pitched 1 1/3 shutout innings to close out the game.
The Tigers made their trade yesterday. They traded Casper Wells, Charles Furbush and Francisco Martinez to the Mariners for starter Doug Fister and reliever David Pauley. This isn’t a bad deal because none of the guys the Tigers gave up were true blue chip prospects. Casper Wells looks decent but he doesn’t have a spot and while Furbush has looked solid, the team didn’t seem to want to commit to him as a rotation guy. Fister is having a solid season but the low strikeout numbers worry me. He has been fairly consistent (in a good way) the past couple of months despite not getting a win but everytime I think of this deal, I also think of the trade we made with the Mariners a couple of years ago for Jarrod Washburn. David Pauley looks like a solid addition to the pen but again, I’m not quite sure how he’s doing it because he also has lower strikeout figures.
Of course the Indians drew Ubaldo Jiminez so that makes the race a little more interesting. It’s interesting seeing teams like the Indians and Pirates on the buying side. The Indians did win yesterday so that lead is now down to 1 1/2 games. Today is a treat because it’s a battle of Cy Young contendors. Justin Verlander goes for the Tigers and the Angels throw Jered Weaver. Should be a fun one to watch.
After getting hammered by the Mets on June 28, Rick Porcello has had five straight solid starts in the month of July and he appears to be turning the corner in his development. He won all five of his starts, pitched at least six innings in all but one of those starts and he gave up three or fewer runs. He was just about lights out last night when he pitched eight innings and struck out six with walking anyone. He’s pretty much a lock to set a career mark in strikeouts this year. His rate per nine is up almost a full strikeout and while his walks are up, they’re only up a hair. If Porcello finishes strong, fifteen wins is pretty much a lock and if he keeps up what he started in July, you could see 17 wins. Not too bad for a guy that is effectively a senior in college.
I was listening to the game on the way home and Dan Dickerson and Jim Price made a big deal about how good of a hitter Victor Martinez is with two strikes. They definitely did their homework because Martinez is batting .317 with two strikes on him in 2011. Even more impressive, he’s hitting .308 after he goes 0-2. He’s actually hitting better when the pitcher is ahead (.347) then when he’s ahead (.296) in the count. Just looking at his splits some more, after he goes 3-0, he’s only hitting .222 but he has a .650 OBP. After 3-1, he’s hitting .360.
The Tigers now have their biggest lead of the season with a 2 1/2 game lead over the Indians. They’re three ahead of the White Sox. There’s still a lot of games within the division so these last couple of months should be interesting.
Brandon Inge is off to a nice start for the Mud Hens. In eleven games, he’s hitting .286 with three home runs. My guess is we’ll see him in September. The Tigers affiliates aren’t doing well this year. The only team with a solid chance at making the playoffs is Connecticut and even they have a losing record.
This afternoon it’s Duane Below going up against Dan Haren. I was hoping to get down to the game tomorrow to see the awesome pitching matchup between Justin Verlander and Jared Weaver but I don’t think I’m going to be able to pull it off. The Tigers are on Fox at 4 pm.
The Tigers played their 100th game of the season in a loss to the Minnesota Twins. That loss snapped an eleven game winning streak over the Twinkies after really solid starts by Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer extended the streak. Brad Penny wasn’t horrible, but the Tigers ran into a fresh Scott Baker and while he was on a pitch count, he shut the Tigers down in the five innings he pitched. In all, Penny lasted seven innings and he gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks with four strikeouts. The loss drops him to 7-7 on the season.
The big news this week was the Tigers designating Brandon Inge and trading for Wilson Betemit. What was nice was seeing Inge take his minor league assignment. To call this season a struggle would be an understatement and something needed to happen. Betemit is a solid fill in for now, but since joining the Tigers he’s gone just two for twelve so we’ll see how this one pans out.
The Tigers are 4-4 since the break and they still sit in first place, a game ahead of the Indians (although they’re tied in the loss column). This afternoon it’s Rick Porcello against Francisco Liriano with the White Sox on deck this Monday.
The first half of the Tigers season is in the books and the All Star Break is upon us. The Tigers didn’t have a great week leading into the break but they still sit a half game ahead of the Cleveland Indians despite being a loss back because they’ve played three more game then Cleveland. The White Sox had a rough week as well and they’re five back while the Twins have slowly put themselves back into the mix and they sit 6 1/2 games back. At this point, I still don’t think the Indians are what they were in the first half and I don’t think the Twins have enough in the tank to make up the difference so I see the second half being between the Tigers and the White Sox.
One of the reasons for the Tigers success is they have a better record within in the division then any other team. At 18-8, they’ve been able to make up ground especially after their lackluster interleague performance. They’re also getting it done at home once again. Still, they’re on pace for just 86 wins but it’s looking more and more like whichever AL Central team gets to 85 first will probably walk away with the playoff berth.
Of course the big story in the first half is Justin Verlander. His ERA is now down to 2.15 and he leads the league in strikeouts (147), WHIP (0.874) and innings pitched (151). It’s been 20 years since the Tigers had a 20 game winner (Bill Gullickson) and they’ve only had seven in the past 40 years.
It’s also time to eat a little crow. Back in March I posted some predictions and here’s how I’ve done so far.
1) The Tigers are competing for the division. One for the good guys.
2) Brandon Inge is having a career year, it’s just horribly so. Even if Inge has a solid second half it’s going to be hard for him to even hit .250.
3) Ryan Perry has been hurt and mediocre. Another blown call.
4) This one also wasn’t very tough. I predicted Austin Jackson would hit right around .250 and here he is at .245. His walks are up though.
5) I knew I had heard the “whoever 85 first wins the division” line before. I wrote that above before I went back and looked at this.
6) Jacob Turner hasn’t been called up yet but he’s having a solid season for Erie as a 20 year old. Not sure if we’ll see him as a September call up but if the Tigers are in the mix they could use all of the good arms they can get.
7) The Tigers are on pace to win exactly 86 games. Hopefully they come closer to 90 though and break the string of poor season halves they’ve had.
So all in all, not too bad. Blew the Inge and Perry calls, but was at least close on everything else.
I’ll also throw in this in because it’s become an annual tradition but it’s disappointing what the All Star Game has become. When I was a kid, the All Star Game was a big event. Now you have players bowing at left and right and the roster morphs over a weeks time. Of course it was also one of the few times you go to see all of the NL stars out on the field because back then, baseball on television wasn’t as prevalent.
I hope I did my math right, but the number in the title has some significance. The Tigers sit at 45-41 right now and with six games left in the first half, they need just one win to finish going into the break with at least a .500 record. Since Jim Leyland took over the team in 2006 and the Tigers got “good” their combined record in the second half of the previous five years is 170-200.
So, while the Tigers have given us some hope in the first half in most of the last six years, they’ve also left us wanting in most of those years as well after mediocre to poor second halfs. Hopefully this year is the difference. Here’s some interesting facts I dug up while putting the numbers together. All of these are since 2006.
The Tigers have never had a losing record in the first half. Their worse was 47-47 in 2008. Their best was 2006 when they started 59-29. They’ve never had a winning record in the second half. Their best record is 38-38 which was 2009. Kind of along these same lines, the Tigers have had at least 47 wins in the first half (this could be broken this year) and they’ve never had more then 38 in the second half.
The term “ace” is thrown around way too much these days. Of course this is my opinion but I don’t think an ace is a team’s number one pitcher. While guys Luke Hochevar and Wandy Rodriguez are probably their team’s best pitchers and are good in their own right, I don’t consider them aces. Aces are the best of the best, the guys you want on the mound and they’re the reason your team rarely, if ever, has an extended losing streak because they put a stop to the losing. Prior to the last few years, the last guy I consider an ace for the Tigers was Jack Morris. He was a guy you wanted on the mound when you needed that win.
Good news Tiger fans, because while it’s been a while, the Tigers have their ace in Justin Verlander. Yes, 2008 was rough but since then he’s been one of the most consistent pitchers in the major leagues. This year he’s been nothing short of awesome. He leads the league in wins, winning percentage, innings pitched, strikeouts and WHIP. He’s third in ERA, this overall in WAR and first in WAR for pitchers. His walk rate is the best it’s ever been and his batting average against is .184. His OPS against is .536. That’s a lot of numbers that point to Justin Verlander being one of the best pitchers in the league.
Of course he did it again yesterday. The Tigers were humiliated by the Mets in the first two games of their series and Justin Verlander pitched seven innings and gave up just one run avoid the sweep. In June, he gave up five runs in six starts for a 0.92 ERA. The Tigers were 16-12 in June and six of those were Verlander wins.
Next up for the Tigers are the Giants so it’s first place versus first place. Tonight it’ll be Brad Penny against Madison Bumgarner. Don’t let Bumgarner’s 4-9 record fool you, this guy is for real. It looks like we’re going to miss Lincecum.