Game 2013.31: Nationals at Tigers

19-11, 1st place, 1.5 games up.

Well, this has been a fun stretch. Your Tigers have now won 9 out of 10 games, outscoring their opponents 74-25 (that’s a pythagorean winning % of 89%, or about 143 – 19). Now, the last 7 games were played against the Astros and Twins, so let’s no be disappointed if they don’t score 5 in the first every game here on out. But the Tigers did what good teams are supposed to do against bad ones.

Though it’s only a two game set, this series against the Nationals will be closely watched around the bigs, as both the Tigers and Nationals were heavy pre-season World Series favorites. No Strasburger v. Verlander matchup, but tonight’s duel could be equally as exciting.

Sanchez has been phenomenal out of the gates this year, posting a 1.06 WHIP and 50 Ks in 39 2/3. That’s right, 50! Even more exciting is the fact that Sanchez has never lost to Washington. That’s not a fluke – in 19 career starts he’s 8-0 with a 1.97 ERA against Washington. Hates to face: Desmond (8-25) and Ramos (5-13). Loves to face Benadina (2-20), Laroche (6-30) and Werth (5-30, but he’s out tonight).

Sanchez will be opposed by hard-throwing right Jordan Zimmermann. Zimmermann has a good fastball that can touch 96-97, and great control. In four of his 6 starts this year he’s walked 1 or less, going at least 7 in each of those games. Zimmerman has been strong this year, posting a 5-1 record with a .75 WHIP and 1.64 ERA. He does have 1 HR hitting this year. Only 3 tigers have seen Zimmermann – and only Infante (3-14) has more than 3 AB.

The Nationals are 0-6 all-time v. the Tigers, the only team they are winless against.


A few notes:

– Type in “Whitaker” (or something similar) here: Have fun.

– The Tigers staff is currently posting a K/9 of 9.91. That’s a full K higher than the modern record of 8.68/9 established by Mil last year.

– Josh Hamilton is arguably the worst hitter in baseball right now. TSE – care to comment on how wise that $125M was spent by LAA?

– Rick Ankiel is available.

– Good article on ESPN on why today is the golden age of leadoff hitters.

– Ryan Raburn beat out the following players for player of the week: Cabrera, Fielder, Scherzer, Verlander.

– Sparky’s wife, Carol, passed last night. May she rest in peace and thank you for Sparky & Co.

Remember – NL park so VMart on the bench and 1 free out ever 8 batters.

Today’s lineup:

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


  1. Coleman

    May 8, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Will be surprised if this game happens.

  2. The Strategy Expert

    May 8, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    8pm projected start time!

  3. Vince in MN

    May 8, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Why do opposing pitchers pitch to Cabrera with 1st base open? I mean, I am glad they do, but the guy is a monster. Although Fielder is no slouch, I’d rather take my chances with him than Miggy.

    • The Strategy Expert

      May 8, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      A lesser hitter with a man on 1B is worth a lot more than a better hitter with nobody on base unless there’s a relatively massive gap of talent between the hitters, or if specific score scenarios are applicable.

      • Vince in MN

        May 8, 2013 at 10:30 pm

        In that particular situation (man on 2nd and 2 out) with Cabrera up 17 for 39 last ten games, vs a potential man on 1st and second with Fielder up 11 for 38 in last ten games, I would seriously opt to put Miggy on and pitch to Fielder.

        • Vince in MN

          May 8, 2013 at 10:35 pm

          Unless Verlander was pitching of course, because then Cabrera is a bum 🙂

        • The Strategy Expert

          May 8, 2013 at 10:45 pm

          Not with the score situation of us needing 2 or 3 runs to win the game. One run is not much of a threat. This is actually a common area that a lot of teams commonly make mistakes. There are a few select times minus a specific scoring situation where it is extremely obvious to do it such as when only 1 run matters, but there are very few times that it will make sense to walk a batter to gain a better advantage on the next weakest hitter. The discrepancies are just not often big enough to compensate for the guaranteed full one base. For every 10 times or so that a Manager might foolishly not intentionally walk a batter, he will foolishly walk a batter 90 times.

          • The Strategy Expert

            May 8, 2013 at 10:49 pm

            If you could tell me Dane Sardinha was up after Cabrera, then yeah you could walk him there and play a different mini game path by trying to save that one run to make the next inning easier. But it’s hard to find from one lineup drop any major dropoffs in hitting talent. A guy like Sardinha would never bat behind Cabrera, as would a similar comparison for any other lineup spot to drop down one more.

        • Smoking Loon

          May 8, 2013 at 11:10 pm

          Vince, I think pitching to Miggy rather than walking him had to do with the R/R matchup and the fact that Prince had taken Zimmermann to the CF wall first time up.

          • Smoking Loon

            May 8, 2013 at 11:21 pm

            What is most amazing about Miggy being a bum during Verlander starts thus far is Cabrera’s overall consistency, game to game, in being as good as he is. I did an analysis of consistency of positive hitting contributions the other day that ignored aggregate stats, and he was on top. Here’s how it shook out:

            Kelly (!)

  4. Vince in MN

    May 8, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    I see Span hasn’t lost any of his ability to annoy by moving to Wash.

    • Smoking Loon

      May 9, 2013 at 1:22 am

      It was fun to see him get picked off 1B.

  5. Angus

    May 8, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Key at bat here with Mr. .188.

    • Coleman

      May 8, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      Avila back to his old tricks.

      • Vince in MN

        May 8, 2013 at 10:33 pm

        What do you mean “back to?”

        • Smoking Loon

          May 8, 2013 at 11:32 pm

          Avila is completely off the rails on K% (up) and BB% (down) vs, career, not to mention league average on the K%. In this sense, he is the only Tiger hitter with a strikeout problem in 2013. At a glance, you might think Peralta and Tui did as well, but you would be incorrect.

          Avila’s numbers vs. LHP and with RISP are simply not printable. They are obscene. And yet his failings at the plate have actually been less damaging than those of Martinez, I was surprised to discover. For one thing, Martinez has grounded into double plays in 19% of DP situations.

          • Coleman

            May 8, 2013 at 11:39 pm

            I think the interesting question becomes: is Avila a plus as a catcher? (I don’t know the answer to that question). Because at the plate he has Boesched.

            • The Strategy Expert

              May 8, 2013 at 11:43 pm

              Well I have said this before, but I really like Mike Zunino, he was the 3rd pick in last year’s draft and very soon he would become eligible to trade for. Or a guy like Travis D’arnaud might be fun to have.

              • Smoking Loon

                May 8, 2013 at 11:53 pm

                I don’t know the deeply analytical answer to Coleman’s question, but offhand I’d say that Avila is currently the old school version of an acceptable starting catcher. Good defensively, great with the pitching staff, and any hitting at all is a bonus. It’s hard to imagine the Tigers giving up on him any time this season. It’s also hard to imagine him as the backup catcher so soon after his 2011 season, but hey, look at other teams. Some have backups that would be starters elsewhere. Could be a platoon situation in his Detroit future as well. That may not be so unrealistic.

              • The Strategy Expert

                May 8, 2013 at 11:59 pm

                I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers planned to draft a Catcher in one of the first 2 rounds of the draft, and that might have been part of the plan when they traded away that last Catcher not too long ago.

              • Jim Eggers USMC Rifle Expert1971

                May 9, 2013 at 12:04 am

                TSE- I have seen Zunino play at short season A ball (last season), and three weeks ago in Tacoma. At the time, he was hitless in Tacoma(movie title?) and is just starting to pick it up as is the whole team there. He has all the ability in the world, but if the M’s rush him (see Smoak, Ackley et al) he may be another Matt Clement or in this case an Avila. Personally, from the gut level he should be in AAA ball till call up time. I still believe all players esp. catchers, need more seasoning than most fans think they need.

              • The Strategy Expert

                May 9, 2013 at 12:20 am

                Jim, yeah I agree. I think of him as more of a 2014 and beyond type of player as a pairing with Avila after we get bored of Brayan who was a mistake to begin with. Or he could be a star and then we could move Avila and at least have that option potentially if we prefer to not have that duo if Zunino busts out bigtime like he could. He could also be a defensive weapon.

              • The Strategy Expert

                May 9, 2013 at 12:23 am

                Oh and Jim, the best part is that he’s down on his numbers right now. If he was batting .600 with .900 slugging then the whole concept idea is a waste of time to think about. So I wish he was batting only .100 right now and take my chances and just appreciate any tiny possible reduction in material that it could possibly save to get him.

          • Coleman

            May 8, 2013 at 11:45 pm

            The difference between Avila and Martinez is that Victor had a track record. He is a dependable, consistent player who missed a year; he will either manage to get back to his usual self or not, but we know what jus usual self is. With Avila, it is becoming increasingly possible that his one good season was the anomaly (which means his limited “career” norms are useless.)

            • Smoking Loon

              May 8, 2013 at 11:58 pm

              I agree entirely on the Avila/Martinez difference. I was only speaking of this year’s performances as run through my analysis of game by game WPA & RE24. It was a surprise to come up with Avila as the more consistently positive contributor (it should be noted that positive can sometimes be nothing more than non-negative; see Kelly).

              • Smoking Loon

                May 9, 2013 at 12:19 am

                And speaking of Avila, though this is really a baseball etiquette question: Did it appear to anyone else that Avila “took a dive” when he struck out (3 pitches) for the last Tigers out in the top of the 9th against Houston (Tigers up 17-2)? It sure looked like it to me, although I have to admit that any number of Avila strikeouts this year might not have looked much different.

                Two outs, no one on, 0-2 count, your team ahead by a lopsided score. Do you just take the pitch as a courtesy or to get on with and over with the game? The pitch was a curveball, something Avila might normally lay off of or get frozen by and get called out on. Then again, don’t you take a protective swing with 2 strikes?

                Not criticizing Avila here. Just wondering, as I sometimes do, about blowout etiquette.

  6. Angus

    May 8, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    A swing and a miss.

  7. Smoking Loon

    May 9, 2013 at 1:20 am

    That second Nationals run seemed to score on a bit of clown show. I suppose that’s what it was, but after looking at the play a number of times, I see how close it was to being a brilliant and possibly game-changing (in a good way) play. I still can’t argue with an error being charged to Hunter. It was a mental error, too, taking that chance in the game situation (2 outs, pitcher due up).

  8. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    May 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    A good write by Shawn Windsor on why Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago play:

    • The Strategy Expert

      May 9, 2013 at 4:13 pm

      It’s a good explanation on why they play, but it doesn’t address why they don’t play more. If we can end up winning 1st place with say a 10 game margin, then it could have been an advantage to rest the star players and let the lesser value bench guys take up more of the abuse during the regular season to keep the best players healthy. So the greater the lead we win the division by, the greater the argument could be to justify why they should have had even more playing time than they currently get. Just to look at things from the opposite end of the spectrum.

  9. Coleman

    May 9, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Fister has been having a real problem with HBP lately. And Denard Span is in the lineup. Just sayin’ (that was a nostalgic nod to Bloodthirsty Chris).

  10. Coleman

    May 9, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Denard F. Span…

  11. Coleman

    May 9, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    On the bright side, maybe it will rain.

  12. Jerry The Tiger Fan

    May 9, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    No pre-game writeup for Game 32 @ Washington?

    • Coleman

      May 9, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      I’ll do a pinch-hit one when I get home if Kevin hasn’t. Although it might be better to pretend this game doesn’t exist.

  13. Vince in MN

    May 9, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Maybe Porcello gets some work in today.

  14. mcb

    May 9, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Fister is throwing bp

    • Vince in MN

      May 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      Reading your comment quickly, I at first mistook the b for a u.

      • Smoking Loon

        May 10, 2013 at 4:17 am

        No mistake.

  15. Jerry The Tiger Fan

    May 9, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Can we just not bother to play interleague road games?? We are pathetic in just about every interleague road series. Why do we even bother to show up? Just give the Nats their two wins and save everybody three hours of wasted time.

    • The Strategy Expert

      May 9, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      We have an obligation to show up so the Nats can also pick up some beer sales and money for other junk too. Winning isn’t enough, they are greedy!

      • Vince in MN

        May 9, 2013 at 4:55 pm

        The Tigers also get a percentage of the gate, so there is that.