Postcard from LA

No, I wasn’t in Los Angeles for this series. This is more of a collection of postcard sized thoughts from the Tigers weekend series against the Dodgers.

Armando Galarraga

The theme for Galarraga was inconsistency with the slider. There were times that it was awesome, like when he got Manny Ramirez and Matt Kemp flailing at pitches well outside of the strike zone. And then there was the at-bat where he hung multiple ones in the middle of the plate to Casey “freaking” Blake. It’s likely that Galarraga has one more start to make a statement before Max Scherzer is busting down the door to come back. Of course there is that other factor known as…

Dontrelle Willis

Willis looked terrific at times. He was getting ground ball after ground ball. He was working efficiently. And then things got funky with 2 outs in the 4th innings. A single, a wild pitch, and a walk seemed to set things in motion. Willis did hang in against Reed Johnson who worked a 9 pitch walk. But then it was  HBP and Willis never looked comfortable again.

That seems to be the story with Willis this year. It is a pretty fine line that Willis walks between effective and excruciating.

Strategery

I’m not so much a fan of National League baseball. I don’t care to see pitchers hitting, or being lifted while they are still effective for a pinch hitter. That said, Saturday and Sunday provided some interesting maneuvering by Jim Leyland. It worked on Sunday, not so much on Saturday.

Saturday we all understand the ramifications of Magglio Ordonez being lifted earlier in the game so he wasn’t available in the 9th inning. It’s kind of the nature of the beast and Leyland went all in earlier in the game. It happens. But I think back to a moment in the top of the 4th inning where the Tigers had 2 on and 2 outs and Armando Galarraga up. I understand wanting more than 3 innings from a starter, but Galarraga hadn’t been particularly effective and the Tigers needed runs. Leyland let Galarraga hit, the inning ended, and Galarraga came back and gave up 3 runs in the bottom half of the inning.

I’m not saying that Leyland messed up. It was the 4th inning after all. But with the benefit of hindsight it is easy to look back and say what if. I guess that’s the draw of NL ball.

Things went better in the 9th inning of Sunday’s game where Dontrelle Willis played a key role without getting in the batters box. It forced Torre’s hand and he did what Leyland wanted by bringing in the lefty. That Sherrill fell behind 2-1 and set up the perfect squeeze situation certainly made everyone look smarter.

R3L2O

The Tigers were remarkably efficient in the famous runner-on-third-with-less-than-2-outs scenarios this weekend. They capitalized in such a scenario in the first inning in each of the 3 games. For the season the Tigers have had 98 R3L2O scenarios and have scored 46 runs. The 47% success rate is below the league average of 49%.

Odds and Ends

  • Danny Worth played some dazzling defense. The fact he has chipped in some singles is gravy at this point. He’s bringing to the table what Adam Everett is supposed to. This is probably premature, but how much more time does Everett have to get his batting average into the .220 range?
  • The Austin Jackson play was scary, but fortunately there doesn’t appear to be physical damage beyond swelling which will hopefully go down quickly. Coincidentally enough there was a segment on Baseball Tonight on Thursday about David Wright’s struggles with the low and outside pitch since his beaning last season. I don’t know about the statistical relevance of those struggles, but it was the first thing that I thought of after seeing Jackson get up and walk off the field.
  • Joel Zumaya was pretty nasty, but his fastball was down in velocity. He was sitting at 98-99mph and only hit 100mph once. I don’t know if this is cause for concern, or if it was done by design. It is something to watch though. Clearly, he was still effective, but he’s had a lot of multi-inning relief appearances and it bears watching.