Ah, memories! Doug Fister returned to the place where he began his career, was his usual effective self, and went home without a W, like he had so many times in the employ of Nintendo (a 3.33 2011 ERA was only good enough to get him a 3-12 record).
Implosion may be a fair word for the performance of Dotel last night, and with Valverde struggling, it seems the bullpen has now become a weak spot for the team. But is it really worse than last season? In 2011, Jose Valverde’s perfect save record overshadowed the fact that the bullpen as a whole just was not very good (remember Ryan Perry?). In fact the Tiger bullpen ERA was 3.93 last season, good for only 11th best in the AL. The BP WHIP was 1.392, only better than the Twins. This season so far the bullpen is giving up runs at the rate of 4.25 (10th), with a WHIP of 1.483 (worst).
So while the bullpen is struggling (it’s the W part of the WHIP that is killing them), it wasn’t exactly a strong point last season, other than Valverde’s stellar, and somewhat lucky performance. And speaking of Valverde: so far this season he has appeared in 6 non-save situations, vs only 7 save situations. With the early season offensive struggles, the fact is that there are just fewer save situations this season than last. Could the lack of a regular save situation routine be affecting Valverde?
Tonight Justin Verlander takes the mound and says bullpen? What’s that?
So let’s take a moment to contemplate the season Ryan Raburn is having.
He doesn’t have enough PAs to qualify for the league leaders, but if he did, he would lead the league in lowest BA, lowest OBP, lowest SLG, and of course lowest OPS. Among all players with at least 75 PA he is by far the worst at .127 / .192 / .169 / .361, easily outpacing Seattle’s Brendan Ryan (hmm, there’s that name again) at .147 / .272 / .240 / .512, and Chicago’s Brent Morel (.182 / .217 / .205 / .422).
Jim Leyland, however, is sticking with him. For one thing, he’s due. For another, Leyland says, “This guy has had a pretty good track record the last two or three years.” Well…depends what you mean by track record. Raburn has been good late in the season, but dependably bad early.
Ryan Raburn’s May track record:
In 114 May plate appearances since 2010, Raburn has 1 BB and 38 K. Yes, that really is a 38-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio you are seeing.
In other news, Brad Penny is available.
Tonight’s Player of the Pre-game: Gerald Laird. With a lefty going for Seattle tomorrow, that game would have been the typical time to give Alex Avila a day off. But Avila has been struggling mightily, striking out 5 times in his last 3 games, and has yet to plate a runner on 3rd with less than 2 out (6 attempts, 3 Ks and a GIDP). Laird looks to continue his improbable success at the plate (.316). Although the downside is that he will not be available for pinch-running duties.
Today’s If 6th Doesn’t Work Maybe Bat HIm 4th Next Time Lineup: