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Game 2013.65: Tigers at Twins

Detroit Tigers: 36-28, 1st Place (4.5 ahead of Cleveland).

Well the Tigers had a much-needed day off to shake off their latest one-run loss (their 11th), a 2nd consecutive Valverde home run derby which even had manager Jim Leyland playing hot potato. When Leyland says “who the (expletive) should I close with?” he does have a point. It wasn’t Leyland’s idea to have Valverde as a closer, and he has tried everyone from Coke to Benoit to Alburquerque to Rondon in the role, with nothing but problems. And when you look at the trade options Dombrowski has (Papelbon?) I can imagine he has his own expletives.

This Closer creature is a mysterious beast, often record-setting one year and a scapegoat the next. And it is also a fairly new creature, one perhaps spawned by a baseball writer who created the Save statistic (thanks to StorminNorman$ for the link, I recommend reading this).  One thing in the article that’s hard to argue with: Billy Beane’s point that you can look at all the probabilities you want, but closing a game is an emotion magnet, with the fans, the writers, and even the players drawn in. There is something about being ahead in the 9th and then losing that just does not sit well. The fan comments on blogs are one thing, but even the Tiger players looked demoralized Wednesday.

So the logical answer to Leyland’s question might be that you don’t need to “close with anybody.” Does it really make sense to only use who is supposedly your best relief pitcher in “save situations,” games that statistically you are overwhelmingly going to win no matter who pitches? It is almost a self-perpetuating system: closers are judged–and paid–by numbers of saves, then used in such a way to maximize their numbers of saves without a real thought whether this is really the best way to use them.  Oh, and they only pitch the 9th and only the 9th inning.

This is not to suggest that there is any chance of Jim Leyland doing anything other than having a Setup Guy/Closer system. In that light, I’ll throw this in: last night Rondon K’d the side in the 9th for a save for the Mud Hens.


Just for fun:

World Champion 1968 Detroit Tigers bullpen:



In other news, the Tigers signed Johnathan Crawford, their top pick in the draft, along with 18 others, including Ben “Little Bro” Verlander.


As for tonight, the big news is that Ajax is back! To make room for Jackson, Avisail Garcia has been returned to Toledo. There is also a guy in Center for Minnesota who may look familiar: Clete Thomas gets the start for the Twins tonight.


Today’s Player of the Pre-game:  Austin Jackson. Let’s see if Austin can wake up the road offense. He is only 4-for18 career against Diamond, but I am predicting he comes back with a flourish.

Today’s Welcome Back Ajax Lineup:

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

Avila gets the start even with the lefty pitching; Infante works his way up into the 8th spot.

Posted by on June 14, 2013.

Categories: 2013 Season, Game Post

43 Responses

  1. Twins take 2 out of 3. F’ing Valverde blows up again. Leyland’s head spins around like the little girl in “The Exorcist”.

    by Vince in MN on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:07 pm

  2. Jim Leyland is so stubborn he would rather lose than to have Coke and ValVerde be replaced,,,,He didn’t get to 1684 losses by accident!

    by Judpma on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm

  3. aren’t all the Tigers 4-18 against Cy Diamond

    by Judpma on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:09 pm

  4. Coleman will save us.

    by Smoking Loon on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:18 pm

  5. ? is giving me no idea of why the game is not yet underway.

    by Smoking Loon on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:20 pm

  6. “Ceremony.”

    by Coleman on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:23 pm

  7. Rain delay.

    by KW on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:23 pm

  8. Thanks. Just checked the NWS forecast. Rain came early, I guess.

    by Smoking Loon on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:25 pm

  9. Former Twins closer (speaking of closers) Edfie Guardado and Public Relations guy Tom Mee being inducted into Twins Hall of Fame.

    by Coleman on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:27 pm

  10. Getting to 1,684 losses does take some longevity, which usually requires some measure of winning as well.

    by Smoking Loon on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:28 pm

  11. Really? Twitterers (Tweeters?) are saying rain delay. WE MUST GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS.

    by KW on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:28 pm

  12. Aha.

    by Smoking Loon on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:28 pm

  13. Didn’t look wet behind Mario and Rod as they were doing their little pre-game.

    by Smoking Loon on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:30 pm

  14. Which is to say it just came on here. I’m pretty tired. Can I call someone in New Brunswick or Iceland to find out the final score now?

    by Smoking Loon on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:32 pm

  15. (Drums fingers…)

    Tom Mee (!) being re-inducted?

    by Smoking Loon on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:37 pm

  16. Yu Darvish and Tom Mee. Abbott and Costello material there.

    by Smoking Loon on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:39 pm

  17. Good call on Cy Diamond. (Fielder is 1-for-14. Ouch).

    by Coleman on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:52 pm

  18. I hate the camera angle they use at Target field. Really hard to see where the top of the zone is…

    by Snyder on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:53 pm

  19. you will have to excuse the Tiger batters…. they thought they had this week off not just the day off yesterday….the memo was wrong!

    by judpma on Jun 14, 2013 at 10:06 pm

  20. key inning for Porcello coming up in the bottom of the 6th

    by StorminNorman$ on Jun 14, 2013 at 10:25 pm

  21. They just got the memo!

    by Coleman on Jun 14, 2013 at 10:28 pm

  22. DET has 5 hits, 5 doubles…go figure. Peralta already has 18 doubles

    by StorminNorman$ on Jun 14, 2013 at 10:30 pm

  23. Tonight Rondon was terrible with Toledo!

    by Bill on Jun 14, 2013 at 10:46 pm

  24. how about Porcello lately…Excellent…anyone in management thinking of trading him for relief help ought to re-think it….this starting rotation is spot on!!!

    by judpma on Jun 14, 2013 at 10:48 pm

  25. Baseball is fun.

    by Kevin in Dallas on Jun 14, 2013 at 10:52 pm

  26. That camera angle is way better for seeing where balls cross the plate, though. If it were a little lower, it’d be perfect.

    by KW on Jun 14, 2013 at 10:57 pm

  27. Agreed!

    question, Porcello was at 94 pitches and cruising through 7, why not bring him out for the 8th…bottom part of MIN order – and then bring out Smyly in the 9th???

    by StorminNorman$ on Jun 14, 2013 at 11:03 pm

  28. Because you got to follow the book and the book says…..

    by PHToy in HK on Jun 14, 2013 at 11:10 pm

  29. i know he’s connected (through his father), but when does mngmt realize Alex Avila seems to be getting worse than better?

    by StorminNorman$ on Jun 14, 2013 at 11:14 pm

  30. Don Kelly is horrible! He should have been sent down and kept Garcia

    by Bill on Jun 14, 2013 at 11:19 pm

  31. Here we go…

    by Coleman on Jun 14, 2013 at 11:22 pm

  32. …TSP has to come on in the 9th when you have a lead.

    by PHToy in HK on Jun 14, 2013 at 11:23 pm

  33. JL must be testing his own heart with the ‘human stress test’ (Valverde)

    by StorminNorman$ on Jun 14, 2013 at 11:37 pm

  34. I got my Sports Illustrated today and there are a couple of ball players (that look familiar) on the cover… hope that SI jinx does not come into play….

    by JimEggersUSMC on Jun 15, 2013 at 1:39 am

  35. From the horses mouth (JL post-game interview):

    ”We’re going to use Jose Valverde until we decide Jose Valverde can or can’t do it or we’ve got somebody else better.”

    Um, yeah, right. I think what Jimbo means is that if Valverde is the closer, he will close and if he isn’t the closer, then he won’t close.

    “Our strong suit is hitting it into the gap and hitting it over the fence and that’s what we do. That’s what type of team we have. We’re a team that slugs it…”

    Well no, actually. In the AL, the Tigers are tied for 11th in HR and are 7th in doubles. They lead in OBP and BA, which means they hit a lot of singles and get a lot of walks, but that isn’t slugging it.

    by Vince in MN on Jun 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm

  36. Starter/Reliever comparison

    Starter 1548 366 68 10 26 151 95 1 15 440 5 14 29 0 .236 .285 .344
    Reliever 662 154 38 3 17 83 77 7 6 190 8 6 11 1 .233 .316 .376

    The big ouch with the bullpen has been in the BB and HR categories. The BB problem may well have been remedied by the demotion of Villarreal and AlAl. As we know, the HR problem persists.

    You gotta love that .285 OBA from the starters.

    by Vince in MN on Jun 15, 2013 at 2:21 pm

  37. Another example where an Edit button would be helpful.

    by Vince in MN on Jun 15, 2013 at 2:23 pm

  38. Just to let you guys know, I can’t change that. I’ll ask billfer.

    by Kevin in Dallas on Jun 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm

  39. I was thinking the same thing Snyder did. You get used to it, though.

    by Smoking Loon on Jun 16, 2013 at 2:29 am

  40. Porcello’s got it going on. Tigers wouldn’t trade him for Mariano Rivera. Book it.

    by Smoking Loon on Jun 16, 2013 at 2:35 am

  41. I would like to see Valverde traded or DFA, and I don’t care if he converts his next 10 save opportunities. He’s not the worst pitcher in the bullpen – that distinction belongs to either Coke or Downs (we’ll exempt Reed because he’s obviously temporary) – but Papa Grande *is* the one guy for which there is no hope of improvement or flexibility in role. In my mind, he’s already gone.

    by Smoking Loon on Jun 16, 2013 at 2:39 am

  42. Cabrera seems to be in a bit of an SI slump.

    by Smoking Loon on Jun 16, 2013 at 2:39 am

  43. Touche.

    by Smoking Loon on Jun 16, 2013 at 2:40 am

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