Game 2012.153: Royals at Tigers

80-72, 2nd place, 1 game behind CWS, E# 10.

I haven’t yet figured out how to insert fancy charts into the Word Press editor yet, but imagine there’s a graph below entitled “Jose Valverde’s Career.” The Y axis (vertical) would go from “Bad” at the bottom to “Good” at the top. The X axis (horizontal) would say “Back Then” on the left and go to “Now” on the right. And then there would be an arrow diving from the top left of the chart towards the bottom right. With gusto.

It’s pretty easy to look at Valverde’s recent performance and note that he’s posting a 7.71 ERA over his last 10 outings, having allowed at least 1 ER in 6 of those 10 appearances. He’s been drilled for 5 ER in his last 2 1/3, and mercifully, in one of those, the game ended before he could invite anyone else onto the base paths. So what’s the reason?

As I mentioned last night and a few weeks ago, I think the culprit is his velocity, or lack thereof. According to FanGraphs, his fastball now sits at 93-94, instead of 94-96, and batters are jumping on it. As a result, the swings and misses are down (contact on 83.3% of swings, up from 76.9% last year) which means more balls in play and translates into hits at an alarming rate with our defense. The reduced velocity has also manifested itself in a woeful 6.47 K/9, which is over 3.5 off of his career average.

Moreover, he’s lost a good amount of movement on his fastball, which supports the increased contact. Unless he can develop another pitch, these are the sort of problems that can derail a closer’s career (or a borderline team’s playoff hopes).

Now, the counter to this argument is that is June, July and August were phenomenal. But note that his K rate for those three months was only around 6, and he walked as many in June as he struck out (4). I think that was just a little bit of randomness working itself out over the long season.

Valverde is not as bad as he’s been over the past few outings, but he’s no longer the same guy who K’d ARod to close out the ALDS last year.

(Note – not trying to ignore the team’s defensive woes, inability to make seemingly routine baseball plays and lineup holes. These are all factors. Just wanted to share a few thoughts on Big Potato.)

*******************

The Tigers start an extended series with the Royals tonight which includes a makeup from an April 30th rainout. These will be the last 4 regular season games at Comerica this season. Then it’s off to Minnesota and KC to wrap things up.

It’s hard to get excited about a 4 game set with KC when on the heels of yesterday’s Twins sweep, but this division is wide open. And while the eventual WS Champion Cardinals sat 2.5 games out at this point in time last year, there are questions as to whether the Tigers have the right fire in the locker room.

So I’m going to pull the Spring Training line – had we known in March that the Tigers would be 1 game out, with 10 games remaining against teams that were a combined 37 games under .500, I think we’d all be okay with it, and pretty damn excited about these last 10 games.

Let’s Go Tigers!

Tigers are 7-4 against the Royals this year, 4-1 at Comerica. I feel a sweep.

1. Jackson, CF
2. Berry, LF
3. Cabrera, 3B
4. Fielder, 1B
5. Young, DH
6. Dirks, RF
7. Peralta, SS
8.  Avila, C
9. Infante, 2B

44 Comments

  1. Mark

    September 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Verlander is looking good tonight.

  2. Vince in MN

    September 24, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Kevin, the ST line (lie?) was that they were going to run away with the division. We have been patiently (well, OK not always) waiting for those Tigers to show up. The expectations were high, the cletes on the field not so much, therefore the frustration. Should we be alright with be one game back and ten to go? Well, that’s baseball.

  3. Vince in MN

    September 24, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    On paper this game should be a cakewalk for the Tigs. Hochevar has been horrible his ENTIRE career, not just this season, so we should rake, right. However, being that he has an ERA of well over 5……

  4. MLR

    September 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Comparing Tigs to Cards last year, or even 2006, I think is uneven considering the history of the two teams is very different. Cards are second only to the Yanks in world series appearances. Anyway, whatever…go tigers(don’t quite have the energy to use capitol letters. It must be catching from tigers lethargy)

    • Vince in MN

      September 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm

      Jim Leyland is also not Tony LaRussa.

  5. Vince in MN

    September 24, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Even when he gets a hit Peralta fails.

  6. mcb

    September 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    3 baserunning errors in 5 innings!

    • Vince in MN

      September 24, 2012 at 8:34 pm

      As Spock would say: “Fascinating.”

      • Coleman

        September 24, 2012 at 8:56 pm

        i bet Spock throws a mean forkball. Closer material.

        • Coleman

          September 24, 2012 at 9:31 pm

          Would have trouble keeping the cap on though, worse than Rodney.

  7. Coleman

    September 24, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Valverde looks so well-meaning and earnest in that game post photo that I’m almost rooting for him to come in and get a save tonight. Almost.

  8. Coleman

    September 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    OK, he clowned it up a bit in left field yesterday, but…Andy Dirks: quietly competent.

    • Vince in MN

      September 24, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      And he should be batting 2nd.

      • Coleman

        September 24, 2012 at 9:30 pm

        Thus.

  9. Coleman

    September 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Breaking news: Tigers just executed a routine double play at a crucial moment.

    • Vince in MN

      September 24, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      Breaking news: Tigers just hit into a routine double play at a crucial moment.

      • Coleman

        September 24, 2012 at 9:35 pm

        Oops, I meant executied, not hit into…see what happens when one is surprised.

        • Coleman

          September 24, 2012 at 9:35 pm

          “Executied” is like executed, except by cute people. OK, I give up, it must be my iPhone…maybe need one of those new ones.

      • Coleman

        September 24, 2012 at 9:37 pm

        Tigers didn’t actually hit into a DP just there…Peralta sort of did (as usual), but it was more a case of Worth running into one.

        • Vince in MN

          September 24, 2012 at 10:01 pm

          So it was an unroutine DP caused by the 4th baserunning blunder of the evening?

  10. Vince in MN

    September 24, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    With Valverde in, who is warming up in the bullpen “just in case?”

  11. StorminNorman

    September 24, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Albert Einstein – “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

    • Coleman

      September 24, 2012 at 9:42 pm

      I think I would be more sane if I were expecting different results.

  12. Coleman

    September 24, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    I think Valverde should intentionally walk Francoeur here. (Just seeing if stephen is watching).

  13. Vince in MN

    September 24, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    Well they got it done tonight and the stumbles didn’t hurt. Meanwhile CLE leads CHI 3-1 in the 6th.

  14. stephen

    September 24, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Yeah, I know some don’t like the word but the White Sox are TANKING. Six losses in a row, 3 hits in six innings tonight. That’s a tank or choke, whatever word you want to use.

    • T Smith

      September 24, 2012 at 10:51 pm

      They are a strange team. Lose five, win five, etc. Adam Dunn’s 3 run jack in the bottom of the eighth, with two outs and two strikes, could be their spark. The Tigers need to keep winning, and a lot, imvho, if they are going to take the division.

  15. Kevin in Dallas

    September 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    I had the great misfortune of flipping to the White Sox game in time to hear Dunn hit a 3 run bomb. I don’t think we’re getting to first place tonight.

    Sorry everyone.

  16. stephen

    September 24, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    THIS IS ALL MY FAULT. Designating myself for assignment, taken off the 40 man roster.

    • Kevin in Dallas

      September 24, 2012 at 10:39 pm

      This just in from Leyland: “stephen starting tomorrow, batting 2nd”

      • Coleman

        September 24, 2012 at 11:01 pm

        Maybe he will run into one.

    • Coleman

      September 24, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      At least the Tigers didn’t walk Francoeur.

  17. Kevin in Dallas

    September 24, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Cle rally! 1B, GIDP, 1B, 2B…tying run is at 2nd, 2 out.

    • Kevin in Dallas

      September 24, 2012 at 10:47 pm

      Rally over. Tigers are not in 1st place.

      • Kevin in Dallas

        September 24, 2012 at 11:34 pm

        And Hamilton hit a HR tonight.

  18. StorminNorman$

    September 25, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    IF at the end of the regular season DET & CWS are tied, if each team followed their current rotation, that would create a Game 163 matchup of JV vs Sale…each team’s best pitcher.

    Suggestion for DET – win at least 8 or 9 of the last 10 games, and save JV for Game 1 of the 1st round.

    • William

      September 25, 2012 at 10:22 pm

      Sox pushed Sale to Sunday vs TB…was scheduled for Saturday.

      that means he is unavailable for a game 163. Neither would Peavy, as he would pitch this Thursday and theoretically next Tuesday. I have to think they would change that, but you never know.

  19. StorminNorman$

    September 25, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    CLE 4 – CWS 2 – top of 9th. Dunn hit a 3 run HR off Pestano last night (on an 0-2 pitch). Today, with a runner on first in the 8th Pestano K’d Dunn (for Dunn’s 3rd K of the day his 213th of the year). In case you were wondering, yes he is the MLB leader in K’s…followed by Curtis Granderson w/185.

  20. StorminNorman$

    September 25, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    it was tense, but CWS just lost to CLE 4-3

  21. stephen

    September 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Like I said, White Sox tanking. Six out of Seven is tanking.

    • William

      September 25, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      this man won’t like that…..

      http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/b.....-announcer

      • StorminNorman$

        September 25, 2012 at 7:10 pm

        the only time Hawk is even remotely tolerable is when the Sox are getting pounded…

        Steve Stone must be paying off some karmic debt for something terrible, 1st Harry Carey’s side-kick, then Hawk…

        Stone deserves hazard pay…and he’s a very good/knowledgable color guy

        • T Smith

          September 25, 2012 at 11:11 pm

          Yes. Agreed. He even seems annoyed at Hawk, in a professional kinda way, and often counters his bias.

    • T Smith

      September 25, 2012 at 11:12 pm

      Well done, Stephen. You pulled a Don Kelly. You’re back on the roster…