Since the big question going into the season was the Tiger bullpen, it was almost inevitable that the big topic of discussion early on would be bullpen problems. These sorts of things become self-perpetuating don’t they? At the first sign of trouble it becomes “see, look, it’s happening!”
I am not the only person who suspects that Jim Leyland really isn’t buying the Closer by Committee business, and is itching to slap the closer tag on the back of someone’s warmup jacket. And if you were going to try one guy to start with, who better than Phil Coke, he of the postseason heroics?
Well, the first go of that did not work out so well. Coke hung fastballs on two consecutive bottom of the order boys and before you knew it the Tigers’ bid for an undefeated season was finished at one game (that last fly by the way was frustratingly an almost-playable one).
It is hard to blame anyone for remembering what Coke did in the playoffs, but it is also worth remembering this: Coke gave up a .396 average against right-handed hitters last season. One of the advantages to a Closer by Committee system is the ability to play match ups. Maybe let’s give that a try.
The game yesterday was only partly about the bullpen though. The basic story was that the Tigers just didn’t score enough runs to win a Major League baseball game, struggling against the very ordinary Kevin Correia. In fact, the vaunted Tiger offense has managed to grind out a paltry season OPS of .542 so far. This won’t continue, although hopefully they won’t have to wait for warm weather.
The good news from yesterday: the Tigers’ starters now have a season ERA of 0.00, as Anibal Sanchez turned in 5 innings of two-hit baseball. The rubber game mound belongs to Rick Porcello, he of the sparkling Spring Training. So when he leaves the mound with the lead after 5 innings, try not to think “oh no, here it comes.”
Today’s Not-So-Fun Fact: Tiger left-handed hitters so far this season are 3-for-27 (.111), with an OPS of .291.
Today’s Player of the Pre-game: Don Kelly, who becomes the first bench player to get a start. The Donkey will bat 6th, naturally, because that is where the Left Fielder bats.
Today’s Chillin’ With DK Lineup: