Detroit Sports

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Double or Nothing

The Detroit Tigers have had an interesting start to the 2010 season. They currently sit with a 12-10 record and are 2.5 games out of first place behind the Twins.

Double or Nothing:
Interstingly, the Tigers are leading both leagues in doubles this season with 61 total. Brandon Inge and Miguel Cabrera both have 10 doubles each and are near the top of the league in that category.

Rotation Implosion:
The Tigers starting pitching has been their weakest link this season thus far. In fact, Max Scherzer has the lowest ERA of any starter (4.23). Dontrelle Willis follows suit with an ERA of 5.00. Verlander, Bonderman, and Porcello all have very high ERAs well over 5.00. Each of their starters have had a couple good games, but none have been very consistent (except for maybe Scherzer). It appears that most of the other pieces to the puzzle are coming into place for the Tigers, and it remains frustrating to see the starting rotation, which has so much potential, struggle so much. However, the baseball season is long, and much time remains for the starting rotation to get back on track.

Bullpen Dominance:
Despite the starters failing so far, the Tigers' bullpen has been phenomenal. In fact, five of their relievers have an ERA of under 1.69. Additionally, Joel Zumaya looks like he is totally healthy to start the season. He has 14 strikeouts in just under 13 innings; he also has a WHIP under 1.00. He appears to be back where he was in 2006, where Tigers' fans remember him helping the Tigers reach the World Series in that magical 06 summer. Furthermore, the bullpen has really helped the Tigers come back and win a number of games. With the starting pitching imploding in several games, the Tigers have had to come back on multiple occasions while depending on their bullpen to hold the other team at bay.

New Additions on Offense:
This off season the Tigers made a variety of moves that landed them some new faces in the motor city. So far their new additions have been playing pretty well. First, Johnny Damon has hit well this season. His power numbers are way down, probably mostly due to playing in Comerica, but he is still hitting .321 and currently has a 15 game hitting streak. Second, Austin Jackson has shown flashes of brilliance and will most likely content for AL rookie of the year. However, he is on pace for 245 strikeouts and and only 77 walks. Finally, Scott Sizemore has done decently at second base while hitting .255 on the season.

MVP Season?
Miguel Cabrera has played a MVP caliber season so far. He has come up with huge hits for the Tigers to help them win some games. Also, he leads all of baseball with 25 RBIs and is hitting .341 on the season with a OBP of .426. Cabrera is one of the best power hitters in the league, and his reputation for that has continued this season.

Overall:
I suppose the Tigers are somewhat fortunate to be two games above 500. As mentioned, their starting pitching has been terrible, but the rest of the team has done rather well. It appears that they have the hitting and bullpen to have a great season, but pitching will ultimately make or break this team. Time will continue to tell the fate of the 2010 Tigers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Update

These past couple of weeks have been pretty busy for me due to to the end of another college semester. Thus, I have not posted much lately on the blog.

Putting that aside, the Tigers have started the season a bit rough. They went 5-1 at the start but have won only 2 of their last 7. Justin Verlander has pitched horrible to start the season, reminiscent of the last two season starts for the Tigers' ace. Additionally, Willis and Bonderman have both had some good and bad starts. The verdict is still not out on the two former stars, due to the season being so young. The Tiger's biggest addition this off-season, Johnny Damon, started the season horribly but has come back and is hitting near 300 presently.

Also, the Red Wings clawed their way back into the playoffs on a tear and ended up clinching the fifth seed in the playoffs. However, they are currently in the midst of a tough first round series with the Coyotes. The Wings have battled back to tie the series at 2-2 after a scrappy 4-0 win tonight.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Final Rotation

Long time Tigers' starter Nate Robertson no longer occupies a spot on rotation and was traded to the Marlins for a minor league pitcher.

It seems as if many baseball analysts remain confused about this deal, wondering why the Tigers would trade Robertson but give Dontrelle Willis a starting position. All spring Robertson, Willis, and Jeremy Bonderman had battled for the final two starting spots on the Tigers' rotation. Robertson out pitched Willis this spring but was still the odd man out in the rotation battle. Here is what Rob Neyer of ESPN said about the deal:

"Bottom line? The Tigers were going to get bubkus in a trade for Dontrelle Willis so they moved the most marketable major-league pitcher they had. In that regard, this trade makes sense.

Of course, now the question is: Will the 2010 model of the D-Train be a local or an express?

I'm betting on local. What's a little odd is that Robertson's out-pitched Willis this spring, at least statistically. In 20 innings, Robertson's struck out 19 and walked seven. In 15 innings, Willis has struck out 10 and walked eight (both of them have plunked two hitters)."


The Tigers definitely took a gamble by releasing Robertson. Since acquiring Willis two years ago, he has won exactly one game with the Tigers. On the other hand, Robertson, although not phenomenal, has been a consistent pitcher for the Tigers over the past seven seasons. However, during the last two seasons Robertson only won 9 games and had an awful ERA. Both pitchers have struggled with injuries the last few years, but both appear to be completely healthy this spring.

I actually really liked this move for the Tigers. Although the risk appears high by trading Robertson, the Tigers potentially have a killer pitching lineup. Consider how good their starting rotation would be if each pitcher duplicated their best season statistically:

Justin Verlander: 19-9, 269 SO, 3.45 ERA
Rick Porcello: 14-9, 89 SO, 3.96 ERA
Max Scherzer: 11-14, 174 SO, 4.12 ERA
Dontrelle Willis: 22-10, 170 SO, 2.63 ERA
Jeremy Bonderman: 14-8, 202 SO, 4.08 ERA

If you number crunch that you get a combined record of 80-50 with 904 SO in 1030 innings pitched with an average ERA of 3.65 (can you say playoffs?). However, why even mention the numbers from their best seasons? Everyone knows Willis and Bonderman appear to have their best seasons behind them. Regardless, I believe this shows the potential of the Tigers' rotation. Consider that Willis and Bonderman are finally healthy and have been spectacular in the past. Additionally, I like Willis over Robertson, because Robertson has never really proven himself as a very good starting pitcher. He has been consistent (earlier in his career mostly), but is really about an average MLB pitcher, while Willis had Cy Young potential at one point. Robertson is also a couple years older than Bonderman or Willis. Finally, Verlander, Porcello, and Scherzer probably have their best years ahead of them and will further boost the rotation.

Furthermore, if Willis or Bonderman flop, the Tigers still will have
Eddie Bonine waiting in the wings to potentially start. Also, Armando Galarraga will be staying warm in the minor leagues as a backup plan.

Overall, this deal was definitely a little risky. However, Willis and Bonderman both have proven themselves in the past and both are finally completely healthy to start the season. It will be exciting to see the rotation develop throughout the season. Aside from Willis and Bonderman, the other three starters will most likely tear it up this season.

The closer the season gets, the more excited I get to see the Tigers play. They made some surprising moves this off season, but they still have a great chance to clinch their division.

Again, High Risk = High Reward, but will it pay the Tigers dividends in 2010? Time will only tell.