Today Alan Trammell reversed an earlier decision and announced Jeremy Bonderman would be the Opening Day starter. Jason Johnson had been named starter, but he has struggled with his control all spring. Meanwhile, Bonderman did his best to make Trammell change his mind by being quite dominant. Johnson will slide down to the third spot in an effort to balance the right handers in the rotation.
I like the way this rotation sets up from a bullpen-usage standpoint. Presumably, Mike Maroth will follow Bonderman, and Nate Robertson and Wil Ledezma will pitch 4th and 5th. Bondermann and Maroth are the top candidates to pitch late into games. Hopefully in their turns they’ll only be calling on two innings of support. On the other hand, Johnson loses effectiveness once he breaks the 90 pitch threshold. Even assuming that he starts to pitch better, he isn’t a real strong bet to make it out of the 6th inning frequently. Johnson’s bullpen load will be higher. Following Johnson will be Nate Robertson who should be able to amass 200 innings this season, and should be counted on to complete 6 innings so his bullpen usage would be moderate. At the bottom of the rotation is Ledezma who will be handled very delicately. He’s young, and due to injuries has only really pitched a full season one time. His bullpen usage will probably be relatively high. Luckily, the pen will then get a couple days to recover with Bonderman and Maroth starting the cycle again.
From a PR perspective, this move had to be made. I’m not an advocate of making moves to appease fans. I’m sure that wasn’t the motivation for Tram’s decision, but it is a benefit. Opening day in Detroit with the emerging ace on the mound should be electric. While it is quite a bit of pressure on the kid, he is facing the Royals lineup. If there was ever a team to work out jitters against, it would be KC. And, by all accounts he seems up to the challenge.
-The Tigers assigned Jason Grilli and John Ennis to minor league camp. Both will most likely be with Toledo. They also released Mike James which brings the total players in camp down to 32. They also told Dean Palmer he wouldn’t make the team, and Fernando Rodney’s stiff shoulder will likely land him on the DL. This pretty much locks up a spot for Gary Knotts. It also reduces the number of cuts to be made down to 5.
Steve Colyer is most certainly gone. After that, two of the following 5 outfielders will be heading north: Marcus Thames, Nook Logan, Dewayne Wise, Alexis Gomez, and Bobby Higginson.
-With less than a week to Opening Day, I’ll be getting posts up each day this week. I’ll be completing my previews of the bullpen and offense. I’m also aiming to get a pretty cool surprise up at the end of the week.
-Remember those cool charts about the defensive aptitude of the Tigers’ centerfielders? Well Baseball Musings now has charts available for every player, at every position, for every batted ball type. It is a great way to kill a couple of hours (if you’re into looking at graphs).