22-16, 1st place, .5 games up.
The Tigers are 6-1 v. the Astros, outscoring them 55-19. (They could be 7-0 with a margin of 59-19 if Tiger stadium weren’t so big…) They are 16-15 versus everyone else. So how good are the Tigers, really? Well, the numbers, as posted by Coleman yesterday, are pretty darn good. Exceptional to be honest.
But only 1 game above .500 against everyone else? Why could that be?
Here’s a theory (other than the bad bullpen…3-6 in one run games…but we already know that one): their run differential is entirely misleading, because the boys are blowing out teams, and then not winning close games. The Tigers are posting a meager .526 OPS in “Late/Close” games (as defined by MLB.com stats). Contrast that with their .815 OPS when the team is ahead (4th in the majors). Their X W-L is 25-13. So they are either incredibly unlucky, and the wins will start to pile up, or they are over-achieving in meaningless situations. I recognize that I’m only pointing out symptoms and not solving any problems here, but the numbers don’t lie.
Anyway, so I heard there’s a game tonight…
You’re not going to see more excitement about a May matchup than tonight’s Verlander v. Darvish setting. Everyone is talking about it down here (though incredibly – 10,000 seats are still avail; but I can’t open a sports page or turn on sports radio with them talking about it). Many think that these two teams are two of the best in the Majors (you’ll need insider). It’s going to be a heck of a 4 game set.
I’m headed over to the Ballpark in a few hours, hopefully to have a beer with OTFiM.
Yu Darvish has quickly established himself as the Rangers’ ace, and he has become must watch TV around here. First, there was the opening night near perfect game. Then,there was what has to be the most viewed gif in FanGraphs history (it’s pretty cool, check it out). Darvish is striking out hitters at a record-breaking pace of 13.7/9 and sporting a cool .91 WHIP in 8 starts this year (6-1, 2.73 ERA). What makes Yu so unbelievable is that he’ll throw 7-8 different pitches, from virtually the same arm angle and with what looks to be the same arm speed. Don’t be surprised to see an eephus pitch tonight.
Now, JV ain’t no slouch (he got his own cool gif treatment a few weeks back), but he’ll have his work cut out for him against a Rangers team that is tied for a major league best 12 games over .500, has won 7-10, and recently took a series from division rivals Oak at Oak.
A few notes:
– Al Al (and his 16.32 K/9) down, Evan Reed up. I really have no idea who this guy is, so look for him to enter (which would be his major league debut) in the 7th in an incredibly high pressure situation. Was anyone else shocked to see Leyland call out Albuquerque yesterday? Seems like JL never does that.
– I think we’ll have a new closer within 2 months.
Tonight’s I’ll Be There lineup is brought to you by the Jackson 5:
1. Dirks, LF
2. Hunter, RF
3. Cabrera, 3B
4. Fielder, 1B
5. Martinez, DH
6. Avila, C
7. Peralta, SS
8. Kelly, CF
9. Infante, 2B