Maroth’s Masterpiece

If you looked at what transpired over the last two days, you’d have a hard time guessing correctly which Tiger starter missed a start due to arm issues. Mike Maroth, who missed his scheduled start on Thursday with recurring elbow tenderness had everything working. Meanwhile, Jeremy Bonderman struggled with command and velocity while getting shelled yesterday.

First for Maroth’s outing. If Maroth threw in the 90’s, the effort would have been termed dominating. Mike however throws in the mid 80’s, and is left handed which makes him crafty. He worked down in the zone, mixed his pitches effectively, and was painting the outside corner regularly. There were only a couple well hit balls all day and Maroth even managed to contain Travis Hafner. The real test however will come in the next couple days to see how Maroth’s elbow responds to the start.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Bonderman was rocked on Saturday. I would normally not be too concerned, except for the nature of the start. Listening to the radio broadcast Jim and Dan commented that Bonderman seemed to be topping out in the 90-92 range, that he was laboring, and he was struggling with command of his slider. The first two items are things that I observed later in the game on the Opening Day. I don’t really know if this was a bad day, if he’s battling a cold or the flu, or if he’s having elbow or shoulder problems. I know that last year Nate Robertson seemed to have similar issues for his first several starts and it was attributed to a sinus infection (I think it was a sinus infection, it may have been the flu) that sapped him of his strength. Hopefully it is something similarly non-serious.

Other thoughts from today

  • Joel Zumaya is fun to watch. After getting himself in a little bit of a jam, he responded with gusto. The pitches he made to Grady Sizemore were simply unhittable and followed that by overpowering Jason Michaels. The fist pump/spin thing may irk the Indians and their fans a little, but it was meant to show anyone up. That was pure and genuine emotion.
  • Fernando Rodney is doing his best to make it tough on Jim Leyland when Todd Jones returns. Rodney came in and face the heart of the order, and arguably the heart of the AL Central and set them down 1-2-3 to protect a one run lead. Rodney’s been perfect so far this year. If you’re Leyland who’s your closer when Jones comes back, and also who do you send down? Jordan Tata who was called up to when Jones was injured was the lone bright spot in yesterday’s loss.
  • Chris Shelton’s 8th homer was of course the difference in the game. However, the at-bat that impressed me more was his first time up. A day after doing nothing offensively, including some first pitch swinging, Shelton had a terrific AB. He worked the count full, fouled off a pitch he couldn’t do much with, and then lined a single right up the middle. Where he struggled the day before, he came right back the next day with a fantastic approach.

1 Comment

  1. Joey

    April 16, 2006 at 9:15 pm

    Today’s three pitchers were terrific. What a great game to watch.

    And just to add to the anxiety over Bonderman’s recent struggles, here’s a selection from a Lynn Henning piece that ran on Sunday:

    3. Jeremy Bonderman has a trustworthy game-situation change-up.

    False: If he had it, he would throw it. Whenever you ask anyone connected with the Tigers about Bonderman’s change-up, there are nods and assurances he has an off-speed pitch as sharp as his slick fastball and slider. Then you watch him throw 50 pitches and wonder where the change-up was. I saw him throw one in four innings Saturday. If he tossed any others, they were at the same speed he throws his slider (84 mph).

    You can get by as a reliever with two pitches. As a starter, no way. The consequences of bringing Bonderman to the big leagues three years ago was that the change-up never had a chance to develop. He can’t very well practice it in the majors. Thus, there is a two-pitch reliance that leaves him vulnerable to home runs and extra-base hits.