We’re one day removed from the end of the first month of baseball season and the Tigers sit at 11-11. Considering they’ve dropped eight of their last ten, that start is a little disappointing. We all knew this team had it’s share of holes but I didn’t think they’d be exposed this quickly. That doesn’t mean we should be panicking because the Tigers are still just a game back of first place. The baseball season is a marathon and let’s hope some of these early moves that we’re questioning now seem to make sense in the second half of the season.
When the Tigers traded Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson, I was very happy to get Max Scherzer in return. Of course since then his time with the Tigers has been, well, erratic. At times he’s looked like Justin Verlander and at other times he’s looked like, well, not nearly as good as Justin. He’ll turn 28 in July and by now, I would have expected him to have turned the corner to stardom but instead, he’s taken several steps back. His strikeout rate is still there but his walk rate is also up and he’s been very hittable. You’d expect his .453 batting average on balls in play to come down but that still wouldn’t push Scherzer into even the “good” column. His velocity still seems to be there because he was consistently in the mid-90s so you hope he rights the ship soon.
By now everyone has heard of Delmon Young’s transgressions and for now, he’s on the restricted list. I haven’t heard too much of the details on what happened other then that there were racial slurs involved and he was extremely intoxicated. For now I’ll hold off on any judgement until the facts are straight but for now, the Tigers have replaced him with Brad Eldred who was lighting up Toledo. Eldred has spent a lot of time in the minors and has little success in the majors. After tripling in his first at bat, he’s gone one for twelve with five strikeouts since.
Brandon Inge is now an Athletic and we’ll see him in about a week and a half when the Tigers go out for a west coast swing. I’ve always been a fan of Inge’s but he has become a distraction and of course, it’s been a while since he’s hit the ball well. As it stands, he’s the Tigers all time leader in strikeouts and up until recently, he had hit more home runs in Comerica Park then anyone else (Miguel Cabrera is now the leader). I hope he finishes out his career in a good way (other then when he plays us).
This is another big series because, like the Mariners last week, the Tigers have a good chance to run the table. Wednesdays pitching matchup is particularly favorable with Verlander going up against Luis Mendoza. If I were into sports betting, I’d be putting my money on the Tigers in that one.
Tonight, Duane Below makes his first start of the season. We’ll see if we can get this one in with all of the rain we’ve gotten.
The Tigers had the day off and they’re coming off a tough series against the Rangers. 10-6 isn’t bad, and the Tigers are tied for first place but it could be better and hopefully Max Scherzer rights his own ship tonight. Rather then doing a “two weeks and a half in review” let’s just look at some randomness.
First off, Austin Jackson leads the team in OPS (.882) out of the staters. Better then both Prince Fielder and Miguel Carbera so far, Jackson leads the team with nine walks and he has four doubles, a triple and a home run. He also leads the team with 17 strikeouts and he’s the only Tiger to have a sacrifice hit.
Seven of Jhonny Peralta’s fourteen hits have been doubles. He’s on pace for 70 doubles and no home runs. I wonder if that’ll stick.
Ryan Raburn has a .271 OPS with a .098 slugging percentage. I think he’s taking this whole “bad first half” thing a little too far.
Drew Smyly has a higher WHIP (1.375) then his ERA (1.13). His only two earned runs have come on solo home runs.
After a 3-0 count, the Tigers have 18 walks in 30 plate appearances but no hits.
Against number nine hitters, Tigers pitchers have an OPS against of .436. Against number eight hitters they have an OPS against of 1.040.
Alex Avila has just as many errors (2) as Miguel Cabrera.
In 16 games, the Tigers have used eleven different batting orders.
Last week, Tiger Stadium would have turned 100 years old. In a great column, Chris Jaffe runs through what he considers the 10 greatest games played at Tiger Stadium. My favorite on the list was the 1987 Blue Jays series. Good stuff as always out of Chris and if you want more from him, be sure to check out his run down of Ivan Rodriguez’s career as he’s retiring today.
Prior to the season, there was quite a bit of excitement with Tigers fans. When I’d talk to them, I’d try to stay positive as well and I’d say the Tigers are pretty much a lock to win their division and will probably have the best record in the American League if not in baseball. Then they’d be surprised when I’d tell them that even with all of that, the Tigers were still probably only the fifth best team in the American League.
I might move them up a notch after their first two weeks of the season but then the Rangers rolled into town and like last year’s ALCS, all of our weaknesses were exposed. On Friday, you had a mediocre outing out of what’s effectively our sixth starter (lack of depth) and then an implosion by the bullpen (lack of depth). Then yesterday you had the poor start and while a lot of people want to jump on Brandon Inge for his error, that inning was already nasty to begin with. It then took Justin Verlander to stop the pain and he came up with a good but not great start that forced the Tigers to go to their pen a lot earlier then they probably would have liked.
The good news is, the Tigers get a break before they head out to New York next weekend with the Mariners in town. I’m also interested to see how Drew Smyly does today. This Rangers team can rake and if he can pitch five or six strong innings today, I think we can say his rotation spot was well deserved.
Someone brought up defense to me the other day. The Tigers are now 29th in defensive efficiency. The only team that’s worse is the Yankees. We’re still in the “small sample” size category but that’s troubling and it’s going to have an effect on our pitchers. So far it hasn’t because the Tigers have the fourth best ERA in the American League but we’ll see when that starts catching up to them.
Anyway, didn’t want to be too much of a downer. Today is also the last day to help Jonnie Rae move on the to Exotic 8 in the 2012 WRIF Rock Girl contest. Be sure to check out her website for details on how to vote.
Drew Smyly made his second career start last night and this was a good one. He gave up seven hits and just one walk with four four strikeouts but he needed 101 pitches to get through six innings. What was most impressive was he seemed to keep the ball down and had 13 ground ball outs to just four fly ball outs. He also had the help of one double play and he picked Jason Bourgeois off of first base.
Just in looking at the pitch log, he was mixing his four seamer, slider and cutter into a lot of the at bats early on but he got away from the slider and was mostly throwing fast balls. Then around the fourth inning he went back to mixing it up. Then by the later innings, he went away from the cutter. Not sure if just wasn’t feeling those other pitches or if there was a method to it all.
The bullpen threw three shutout innings and that was nice to see. You never like to see the ninth inning walks but you’re going to get that with Valverde on the mound. It was also nice to see Miguel Cabrera get back on track although Austin Jackson struck out three times. That’s his first three strikeout game of the season after having nine last year.
The Tigers go for the sweep tonight and hopefully Max Scherzer can get back on track. Also, you’re running out of time to vote Jonnie Rae Cude into the next round of the 2012 WRIF Rock Girl contest so be sure to click on the link and help her out.
Well, the Tigers are nine games into the season and even with the small sample size, this fraction of the season has been telling. The good news is, the Tigers are 6-3. Just as good, they’re in first place. Not so good is that some of their weaknesses have shown in this last stretch where they’ve lost three of their last five.
First is, the Tigers don’t have a lot of depth. Anywhere. Once you get past Delmon Young, the lineup thins out pretty quick and that’s when the regulars are in there. Doug Fister is out and while Adam Wilk had a good showing yesterday, I don’t think he’s a long term option. And the pen looks to be pretty thin as well. Some positives were Rick Porcello’s start today and Drew Smyly toughing out four innings on Thursday. Verlander will be there and so will Scherzer eventually. On a good note, the Tigers pitchers (going into today’s game) were second in the American League with 75 strikeouts and that’s over 72 innings. They’re also scoring a bunch of runs so hopefully these things will take care of themselves.
Next up is three against the Royals before the Tigers before four at home against the Rangers so things aren’t going to get any easier. The series win over the Rays was big (I think they’re one of the better teams in the AL) but they faltered against the White Sox who I think they should have rolled over.
Finally, you can help out Jonnie Rae Cude who’s competing to become the next WRIF Rock Girl. Be sure to head over to her site where you can find all of the ways to vote for her.
The Tigers finally announced their fifth starter and I don’t think anyone saw this one coming. When he wasn’t working out at second base, the Tigers were secretly stretching out Brandon Inge on the mound of all places. Apparantly their initial goal was to use him as a reliever/defensive replacement but he seemed to take to the role so well that Inge was actually going to get a spot in the rotation once the Tigers need a fifth starter.
Of course this could still change if the Tigers made a trade. Drew Smyly was the odds on favorite at this point but it looks like the team would like to see him test his mettle at Triple-A. And speaking of the Mud Hens, how cool is it going to be for them to have Jacob Turner, Andrew Oliver, Smyly and Casey Crosby all on the same team.
Brandon is a guy that people seem to either love or hate. I’ve always been a fan but this may be one of the more interesting turns in his career. It seems like he’s been able to bounce back whenever the Tigers pick up someone to replace him on the field and that’s just one more example. You just have to wonder how this is going to affect his hitting, which has been subpar for the past couple of years.