The Tigers are one of the hottest teams in the American League right now and Jeremy Bonderman, who looked like a shell of his old self in April, has now put together three nice starts in a row. He even came out of the bullpen earlier in the week and threw a shutout inning. His latest outing was yesterday and he struck out a season high eight batters in six innings en route to his second win of the season. He did walk four and the Athletics offense is in the bottom half of the league but he’s gone at least six innings and given up two earned runs or less in each of his last three starts and he’s striking out almost a batter an inning on the season.
The strange thing is, I don’t know how he’s doing it. His velocity is still down and while pitchers have reinvented themselves after injuries (Frank Tanana for example), Bonderman has made the transition pretty quickly. He is throwing a lot of sliders but in this last start, he didn’t throw above 91 and most of his fastballs were in the high 80s.
His numbers don’t look too out of whack though. He has a .299 batting average on balls in play which isn’t too strange. A big reason for his success is he’s really getting righties out (.544 OPS) but one concern is that he’s giving up a lot of fly balls and if he’s not careful, that could come back to haunt him. Still, all in all Bonderman has been one of the Tigers better starts outside of Justin Verlander.
Interleague play begins today and the Tigers are in LA to take on the Dodgers. It’s Dontrelle Willis against Chad Billingsley. It’s the last game of the day at 10:10.