The tough thing about not having time to write everyday, is that when I come back, so much can happen. In this case, the Tigers lost Magglio Ordonez for a couple months, Farnsworth developed a strained bicep, Urbina combusted again, Trammell was slammed for his bullpen utilizaztion, Bonderman turned things around with an ace like performance, and Urbina managed a scoreless outing for the first time this season. So what is the topic for discussion? With a relatively light workday today, I’ll try all of it.
Bonderman, Maroth and the Bullpen
With the rotation of Bonderman, Maroth, Johnson, Robertson, and Ledezma it seemed apparent that the bullpen would be working extensively during the back of the rotation, and recovering when Bonderman and Maroth were on the mound. While Trammell helped to cause some of the fatigue by pulling Maroth too early in Minnesota, I’m sure he was planning on Jason Johnson pitching at least throught the first inning the subsequent night. Add a rough outing by Nate Robertson and you have a bullpen that pitched 14 of the 24 1/3 innings in the Twins series.
After a solid six inning effort from Wil Ledezma, both Bonderman and Maroth came in this weekend and pitched into the 8th inning when the pen needed it most. For Bonderman it was another step on his continuing journey to become an elite pitcher. For Maroth, it was just another outing where he went deep into the game and kept his team in it.
Ugh Ugueth Urbina
So what to do with Urbina? The good news is that he struckout all 4 hitters he faced in Sunday’s game. The bad news is that was the first outing this year in that he hasn’t allowed a run. With this last outing hopefully he turned the corner. While Urbina isn’t a dominant closer, he still has a pretty good track record of success. For the time being I still think he is the set-up man, even if it causes me to hold my breath when he comes in the game.
Searching for a lead-off hitter
I’m not convinced that this is really an issue. The Tigers don’t have a prototypical leadoff hitter, but I don’t really see it hurting production. They are still scoring 5.8 runs per game. Part of the problem is that Infante’s numbers are much more reminiscent of 2003 than 2004. However, as long as Inge continues to hit well there isn’t a problem with Brandon at the top of the order.
Of course if you wanted to put somebody at the top of the order who got on base 43.5% of the time, you could always put Carlos Pena up there. While he’s not hitting real well, he’s seeing over 4 pitches per at-bat, and he has 12 walks against only 6 strikeouts. His proficiency at getting on base has probably contributed to Craig Monroe’s 11 RBI (as well as his 3 double plays). I’m not advocating this move, because I think Pena will start to hit better, and I like his chances of doing that better with less pressure lower in the order. However, it’s something to consider.
Extra base-less opinion
Lost amidst the pitching debacle in the Metrodome, the Tigers bats were pretty anemic during the Twins series. While the Tigers amassed 27 hits over the 3 games, only 6 were for extra bases (3 doubles and 3 homers). The result was a .386 slugging percentage. Combine that with a 24 to 6 strikeout to walk ratio and you realize that even without the bullpen collapse, the Tigers would have been lucky to win any games. (I know that the first game they had a lead and it the game was theirs to lose. My point is that the whole team didn’t really play well enough to win)
At this point there isn’t really a lot to add to the Magglio Ordonez hernia discusssion. The Tigers have outfield options and will be able to survive. The offesne is already strong, it just won’t be uber-strong without Ordonez. The biggest implication is that with him missing a couple of months due to the hernia it all but guarantees that the out clause won’t kick in. With him having a shortened season, it will put less stress on the knee, and make it less susceptible to injury. I wasn’t rooting for the guy to injure his knee, but the hernia pretty much insures that Ordonez will be in Detroit for at least the next 5 years.
As for the hernia injury itself, a hernia pretty much wiped out Dmitri’s 2002 season. The difference is that Young tried unsuccessfully to rehab it before finally undergoing surgery. Ordonez on the other hand is consulting two specialists and will probably have surgery within a week.
The Tigers’ right hand heavy lineup faced their first left handed starter this season in Brian Anderson. For the season, the Tigers only have 80 at-bats against left handed pitchers, and they haven’t fared well posting a 203/264/278 line.
The Summer of 1935
Tigerblog has started to do a retrospective look at the 1935 season. Follow the team as Greenberg, Gehringer, and Cochrange lead the team toward the first championship in franchis history.