39-40, 3rd place, 3 games back.
Let’s talk about the lineup for a second. I really feel that the Berry/Jackson swap is gaining momentum, since I now know of 3 people on the bandwagon (me, Coleman, and Sean). Jason Beck even chimed in, though he thinks AJax should stay at the top. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Beck raised the point that Jackson’s doubles rate makes it likely that a double + bunt puts one one at third with Cabby/Fielder coming up. My contention is that if Berry gets on 1st, we have a much better chance of bringing him home with AJax behind him (due to Berry’s ability to get to 2nd on his own, + the XB power of Jackson, Cabrera & Fielder).
But, the other point to consider is Jackson’s current .404 OBP (also raised by Beck). Now, Berry’s is currently close enough (.385) that I still think it makes sense. But if their OBPs diverge, then Jackson is likely a better choice. In the long run, I see Jackson moving down the order (a la Granderson/Cano/Sizemore).
Last night’s game saw an ordinary Smyly (actually, he was fantastic for 4 innings, and terrible for 1) followed by a superb bullpen. While the Tigers are addressing the 5th spot, the bullpen looks to be set. 4 IP, 2 H and 6 Ks last night. I wonder if Leyland is considering going with Villarreal and Coke as his 7th innning guys in lieu of Dotel. After a great April, Dotel was lit up in May and June to the tune of a 6.32 ERA. Villarreal led the bullpen with 16 innings in June posting a .94 WHIP and 22Ks.
The Tigers get Liam Hendriks tonight, a guy who has yet to win in 12 ML starts. It’s hard to believe that the Twins don’t have a better option than a guy with a 6.82 ERA this year (6.55 career) and a 1.61 career WHIP (1.67 this year). Though the Tigers have been known to turn unknowns into Cy-knowns. Hendriks does have 2 QS this year, one was a ND against Texas back in April, and the other was his last time out against the Sox.
This will be the Tigers’ 8th shot at getting back to .500 since May 15th…
A few notes:
– Congrats to Fielder (starter), JV (in the running to start) and Cabby for their all star selections. Jackson was left of the vote-in list, but he’s got to be next on the list in the event that an outfielder gets injured.
– I saw Leyland’s press conference last night (UVerse offers FSD as part of its regular sports package) and he mentioned that Villareal really loses arm strength after an inning, especially the next night. I’m okay with that.
– Ryan Raburn hit .321 with an .809 OPS in June. Boesch hit .220 with a .576 OPS. Which explains the order below, despite a RH starter.
– Dontrelle Willis announced his retirement today.
Tonight’s Back to .500 Lineup Is:
1. Jackson, CF
2. Berry, LF
3. Cabrera, 3B
4. Fielder, 1B
5. Young, DH
6. Raburn, RF
7. Peralta, SS
8. Avila, C
9. Santiago, 2B