Monday, April 26, 2010

Tables Turning

Suffice it to say, this road trip was been odd, which, admittedly, was expected. But think about it: The Tigers won 5-4 on Thursday, lost 5-4 on Friday, won 8-4 on Saturday, and lost 8-4 yesterday. While I wouldn’t mind this pattern continuing for one more game (since that would mean they’d win tonight), I don’t think it will. Rick Porcello sure is stumping the stat geeks, though (Ordinarily, I might find this slightly funny in a mischievous sort of way, but as this is a detriment to the Tigers, I won’t). Compared to this point last year, he’s getting more ground balls and more strikeouts and he’s giving up fewer walks, fewer home runs, and fewer line drives, and yet the results don’t seem to suggest that. They think things will correct themselves on their own, or maybe with a few adjustments. I think there have been some command issues, which stats like that don’t really tell you. He hasn’t walked many, but he is falling behind hitters a lot, and guys are going to get quite a few hits when you’re constantly pitching to them in 2-0, 2-1, and 3-1 counts. Granted, they probably shouldn’t be getting as many hits as they are getting, though. Also, his sinker hasn’t really been sinking (and so I don’t go for Rod Allen’s theory of other teams “laying off” the sinker, because I haven’t seen any evidence of that), which probably suggests a mechanical issue. He did look better in the third and fourth innings, for what it’s worth.

I don’t know what happened to the offense there. It looked like they were gonna tee off on Colby Lewis all day, and then suddenly he set down fifteen straight and went seven innings. It was a nice day for Austin Jackson as he hit his first big league home run, and Johnny Damon continued his hitting streak. That’s about it as far as offensive highlights. I did notice that the umpire was calling the outside strike against lefties far more often than he did against righties (Apparently this is a real phenomenon that happens all the time). I’m not really one of those screaming for robot umpires. I can deal with a weird strike zone as long as it’s consistent, but this strike zone seemed dramatically different depending on which side of the plate the guy was swinging from.

With the bullpen being so taxed as it is, it’s no surprise that there’s a ton of speculation that someone could get called up soon and that the Tigers will go with 13 pitchers for a while (though with Adam Everett on the shelf for a few days with this hamstring problem, I’m not sure that’s a good idea). I’m not sure who they would call up. Robbie Weinhardt’s ERA is really high right now, but he’s been pretty good recently. Armando Galarraga has pitched exceptionally well in Toledo so far, but I don’t want them to call him up unless they intend for him to start. Alfredo Figaro has been Toledo’s other good starter, but with Freddy Dolsi gone, Figaro’s now the pitcher that unnerves me too much. Jay Sborz is also a possibility. He’s been closing for Toledo, and he’s been doing a good job. I don’t know how anyone in Erie is doing, so you’ll have to go elsewhere for Double A speculation.

Of course, there’s another way to get the bullpen back in order, and that’s for Jeremy Bonderman to go a long ways into tonight’s game. He survived a rocky first inning to go six strong innings against the Angels last time out, and most of the Rangers that have seen him haven’t (for the most part) done particularly well against him. The only one that has is Michael Young (Ian Kinsler hits .600 against him, but as Kinsler is on the DL, that doesn’t matter). Vladimir Guerrero is 4-for-21 with 10 strikeouts. However, you have to remember that was a long time ago and he hasn’t gotten the velocity back quite yet. And he hasn’t pitched against the Rangers since April of 2008. The Rangers counter with lefty Matt Harrison, who missed most of last year with thoracic outlet syndrome, same as Bonderman. His last start was not very good, but given that his ERA is in the 4s after that start, he must’ve been pitching okay before then. His ERA against the Tigers is over 7 and I don’t know why because I don’t remember them hitting him particularly hard. No Tiger has more than six plate appearances against him, but Damon and Inge have had success (Inge is the only Tiger to have homered off him).  

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