Game 2012.29: Tigers at Mariners

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:

  • 2010 .115 BA .115 OBP .154 SLG .269 OPS 0 BB 7 K
  • 2011 .113 BA .141 OBP .129 SLG .270 OPS 1 BB 22 K
  • 2012 .059 BA .105 OBP .118 SLB .223 OPS 0 BB 9 K

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:

  1. Austin Jackson CF
  2. Andy Dirks LF
  3. Miguel Cabrera 3B
  4. Prince Fielder 1B
  5. Delmon Young DH
  6. Ryan Raburn 2B
  7. Jhonny Peralta SS
  8. Brennan Boesch RF
  9. Gerald Laird C

46 Comments

  1. Andrew in Toronto

    May 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Obviously people are angry that Leyland keeps playing Rayburn… Oops. I mean Raburn… No, let’s just make that K-Burn.

    But the bigger coaching failure seems to be in those May stats. How can a guy, whose later-year numbers prove he has talent, consistently fail in the spring without being fixed? Can’t the coaches solve that problem?

    He either needs to be traded to the Yankees, or not be allowed to have a winter.

  2. Mike

    May 8, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Penny wasn’t cut by the Japanese team–he no longer wanted to be in Japan or playing baseball there.

    • Coleman

      May 8, 2012 at 6:43 pm

      Thanks, I had a link renaming fail, it has been fixed. Oddly the original story and headline don’t imply that he was cut–that was just the title of the actual URL. Strange.

  3. scott

    May 8, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    I still say Leyland cannot properly use a pitching staff. taking Fister out was ridiculous; he was pitching marvelously. something a total moron would do. I knew when he did it the Tigers relief corps would find a way to lose…….and they did. FIRE LEYLAND!! DO IT NOW!! mark my words: he’ll find more games to lose the way he handles the pitching staff……..

    • Coleman

      May 8, 2012 at 6:58 pm

      I thought Fister was going well enough, with a low enough pitch count, that another inning was in order–especially since we already knew we had Benoit and Valverde unavailable in the BP.

      At the same time, bringing in Coke in the 8th looked like a nice move. Facing the lefty part of the lineup, Coke mowed right through his 3 hitters. At that point, did you really think pulling Fister was a huge mistake?

      Obviously, Leyland couldn’t bring Fister back in the 9th, so his choices were leaving Coke in to face the RHB part of the lineup, or Dotel, who has been tough on RHB, and tough on the only lefty coming up (Ichiro, 1-10 vs. Dotel). I think an argument can be made for pulling Dotel sooner, but the Fister-Coke-Dotel thing made sense in advance.

  4. StorminNorman$

    May 8, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    The Raburn May numbers that Coleman provided are rather staggering… i knew he struggled early, but didn’t think it was that bad.

    The annual mystery as to why the guy can’t seem to hit before the All Star break is only going to be magnified in the year that he continues his first half struggles into the remainder of the season – and one of these years its going to happen.

    He’s batting in the 6th spot tonight – and Laird will be catching at least tonight and tomorrow since Avila has tendinitis in the left knee…not a good ailment for a catcher

  5. StorminNorman$

    May 8, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    with Millwood pitching for SEA, Tigers should finally put up some runs tonight.

  6. StorminNorman$

    May 8, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Josh Hamilton 5 for 5 tonight against the O’s – with 4 HR’s and a 2B… amazing!

    • Kevin in Dallas

      May 8, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      And a HR in his last AB last night. Guy is ridiculous.

      • Chris in Texas

        May 8, 2012 at 11:24 pm

        One of Sparky’s best quotes “give me 25 guys in their contract year and I’ll win the pennant every year”

  7. Kevin in Dallas

    May 8, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Alright friends, this game is gonna end on my birthday. I don’t want to spend tomorrow debating another bullpen loss or Raburn fail. Let’s go Tigers.

  8. Kevin in Dallas

    May 8, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Have I mentioned yet tonight that I love Dirks in the 2 hole?

  9. Tigers Rule

    May 8, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    W.. T.. F… is KBum still in the lineup ….. and now batting in the 6 spot at that!!!!

    • Tigers Rule

      May 8, 2012 at 10:22 pm

      Has Smokey gone completely senile?

  10. Brenden

    May 8, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    K-Burn batting 6th….Are you kidding me???

  11. Andrew in Toronto

    May 8, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Tigers have 5 hits in 7 at bats. Why bunt???

    • PHToy in HK

      May 8, 2012 at 10:49 pm

      Because it worked?

      • Tigers Rule

        May 8, 2012 at 11:06 pm

        Baseball 101 ….. and Smokey did something correct for a change!

        • Andrew in Toronto

          May 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm

          Why was it correct? It’s more likely we would have scored more runs that inning without bunting:

          http://www.tangotiger.net/RE9902.html

          This is especially the case given that Jackson has been hitting so well this year and Millwood did not seem capable of getting any outs on his own.

  12. Kevin in Dallas

    May 8, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Love me some Dirks.

  13. Chris in Texas

    May 8, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    This umpire is beyond terrible. He has no business ever umping another major league game. He has been awful and then he compunds it, by having rabbit ears. The Tigers need to blow this thing open.

    • Chris in Texas

      May 8, 2012 at 11:23 pm

      That is compounds

  14. Kevin in Dallas

    May 8, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    I think Millwood’s off-season regiment is similar to mine.

  15. Chris in Texas

    May 9, 2012 at 12:11 am

    Cabrera is really struggling. It’s like he isn’t seeing or recognizing pitches…He is swinging at or checking his swing on a lot of pitches, that he normally won’t even move on. Raburn, Inge, Leyland…all of these are good points to argue about or to vent about…but, in the end, the Tigers will not start winning ballgames until Fielder and Cabrera start doing some heavy lifting. It’s not that, they have been awful or anything, just not even close to their standards (Fielder, I am just guessing, having never watched him play consistently) Cabby on the other hand, has been unrecognizable for most of this season.

  16. Chris in Texas

    May 9, 2012 at 12:30 am

    This bullpen is so bad it’s scary.

    • Jeff Molby

      May 9, 2012 at 3:12 am

      Chris, The bullpen’s ERA is 4.25. That’s not going to set any records, but it’s nowhere near “so bad it’s scary”. Doubly so because it includes the Thad Weber Experiment and Daniel Schlereth, who foolishly tried to pitch through an injury.

      Hell, it’s more than a full run better than last year’s group managed, so I’ll take it in a heartbeat. The ALCS made it clear that our bullpen is a significant weak spot, so I wish they had done more to upgrade it, but it’s nowhere near as bad as your hyperbole implies.

    • Vince in MN

      May 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm

      Benoit, the setup man, has a WHIP of 1.725 (9 BB + 14 H in 13.1 IP). Valverde, the closer, has a WHIP of 1.902 (11 BB + 14 H in 13.2 IP). Those are the two highest WHIPs on the current 12-man staff. One could claim small sample size. One could also claim alarm.

      • Jeff Molby

        May 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm

        Benoit’s WHIP is a full standard deviation away from his career numbers. Valverde’s WHIP is 2.5 standard deviations away from his career numbers.

        If you expect me to fret about 13 innings while ignoring a decade of success, you better be able to point to something concrete to explain why the old numbers are no longer relevant. Is his pitch speed down? Did his breaking ball flatten? Did he change his delivery?

        Anyone that knows me knows that I’m not a betting man, but if anyone truly believes those WHIPs won’t regress to the mean, I’ll happily make some sizable wagers. Anyone wanna wager on Pujols while we’re at it?

  17. PHToy in HK

    May 9, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Another walk that comes back to haunt…

  18. Chris in Texas

    May 9, 2012 at 12:33 am

    The number one rule for a bullpen, when protecting a lead is to not Walk people. They are pitiful. They just giveaway basrunners, night after night. This reminds me of 2007..when the pen just destroyed the season.

    • Vince in MN

      May 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      You are correct sir. The bullpen has issued 47 BB (+ 4 HB) in 402 PA. The Starters have issued 42 BB (+ 9 HB) in 702 PA.

  19. Mark

    May 9, 2012 at 12:33 am

    Here we go again… Bullpen rollercoaster.

  20. Chris in Texas

    May 9, 2012 at 12:33 am

    6 runs will not be enough.

    • Jeff Molby

      May 9, 2012 at 12:58 am

      How much would you care to wager, Chris? If I have to sift through your constant pessimism, I should at least have a chance to profit by it, right?

      • Chris in Texas

        May 9, 2012 at 2:12 am

        Jeff, how hard is it to “sift through my pessimism’? I have like 5 posts.. I think all of them are true and can be backed up by evidence..except for needing more than 6 runs…but, it sure would have made it a less stressful game for the fans. In any event, congrats..you would have won your fictitious bet…if you could have found any takers…

  21. Kevin in Dallas

    May 9, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Dickerson just passed this along:
    2008 – 4 games lost when leading after 8
    2009 – 1
    2010 – 0
    2011 – 0
    2012 – 4

  22. PHToy in HK

    May 9, 2012 at 1:03 am

    Another leadoff walk…

  23. Tigers Rule

    May 9, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Oh no ….. not again!

  24. PHToy in HK

    May 9, 2012 at 1:06 am

    I guess he is setting up a game-ending triple play.

  25. PHToy in HK

    May 9, 2012 at 1:19 am

    Always interesting!

  26. Tigers Rule

    May 9, 2012 at 1:21 am

    My heart can’t take too many more of these types of games!

  27. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    May 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Mudhen 2nd baseman Justin Henry is batting .481 in May! http://www.milb.com/milb/stats.....pid=518784

    • Damus Fucious

      May 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm

      I believe Justin Henry had a OBP of over .400 last season. He’s no worse defensively than Raburn.

      But Leyland wanted to see Inge at 2B in spring training – instead of Henry. The rest is history. Tigers don’t appear interested in Justin, for he would only hit 1-2 homers in MLB parks.

  28. Vince in MN

    May 9, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Who knew that fans watching on MLB.com could possibly know something the manager and coaching staff have been completely oblivious to:

    http://beck.mlblogs.com/2012/0.....n-offense/

    What amazes me is that they don’t have somebody monitoring this stuff on camera during games. And they don’t use Pitch f/x apparently (or any other similar data tool, I bet). Ols school management I guess. Really old.

    • Andrew in Toronto

      May 9, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      It must be pretty hard to perceive pitch location while you’re sitting in the dugout. If that’s the only perspective they have on things, that’s pretty bad. But I’m pretty sure some of the other coaches must be watching video and working with video with the players. Probably nobody tells Leyland what they see.

  29. Chris in Texas

    May 9, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    I think if you look at fangraphs…Jhonny’s defensive numbers are in the negative…because of his poor range, but, he gets more out of his limited range then anybody I have ever seen. He really is a steady, sure handed fielder. That was a very nice play from our infield.