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:

  • ERA: 2.26
  • WHIP: 1.113
  • W/L:  29-13
  • Saves: 29


  • 7 Pat Dobson
  • 7 Darryl Patterson
  • 5 Fred Lasher
  • 3 John Warden
  • 2 John Hiller
  • 2 John Wyatt
  • 1 Mickey Lolich
  • 1 Don McMahon
  • 1 Dennis Ribant


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.


  1. Vince in MN

    June 14, 2013 at 8:07 pm

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

  2. Judpma

    June 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    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!

    • Smoking Loon

      June 14, 2013 at 8:28 pm

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

  3. Judpma

    June 14, 2013 at 8:09 pm

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

    • Coleman

      June 14, 2013 at 8:52 pm

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

  4. Smoking Loon

    June 14, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Coleman will save us.

  5. Smoking Loon

    June 14, 2013 at 8:20 pm

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

    • Coleman

      June 14, 2013 at 8:23 pm


    • KW

      June 14, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      Rain delay.

      • Smoking Loon

        June 14, 2013 at 8:25 pm

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

    • Coleman

      June 14, 2013 at 8:27 pm

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

      • KW

        June 14, 2013 at 8:28 pm

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

      • Smoking Loon

        June 14, 2013 at 8:28 pm


        • Smoking Loon

          June 14, 2013 at 8:30 pm

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

          • Smoking Loon

            June 14, 2013 at 8:32 pm

            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?

            • Smoking Loon

              June 14, 2013 at 8:37 pm

              (Drums fingers…)

              Tom Mee (!) being re-inducted?

              • Smoking Loon

                June 14, 2013 at 8:39 pm

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

  6. Snyder

    June 14, 2013 at 8:53 pm

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

    • KW

      June 14, 2013 at 10:57 pm

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

      • Smoking Loon

        June 16, 2013 at 2:29 am

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

  7. judpma

    June 14, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    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!

    • Coleman

      June 14, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      They just got the memo!

  8. StorminNorman$

    June 14, 2013 at 10:25 pm

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

  9. StorminNorman$

    June 14, 2013 at 10:30 pm

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

  10. Bill

    June 14, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Tonight Rondon was terrible with Toledo!

  11. judpma

    June 14, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    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!!!

    • StorminNorman$

      June 14, 2013 at 11:03 pm


      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???

      • PHToy in HK

        June 14, 2013 at 11:10 pm

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

        • PHToy in HK

          June 14, 2013 at 11:23 pm

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

          • Smoking Loon

            June 16, 2013 at 2:35 am

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

  12. Kevin in Dallas

    June 14, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Baseball is fun.

  13. StorminNorman$

    June 14, 2013 at 11:14 pm

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

  14. Bill

    June 14, 2013 at 11:19 pm

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

  15. Coleman

    June 14, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Here we go…

  16. StorminNorman$

    June 14, 2013 at 11:37 pm

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

    • Smoking Loon

      June 16, 2013 at 2:39 am

      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.

  17. JimEggersUSMC

    June 15, 2013 at 1:39 am

    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….

    • Smoking Loon

      June 16, 2013 at 2:39 am

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

  18. Vince in MN

    June 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    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.

    • Smoking Loon

      June 16, 2013 at 2:40 am


  19. Vince in MN

    June 15, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    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.

    • Vince in MN

      June 15, 2013 at 2:23 pm

      Another example where an Edit button would be helpful.

      • Kevin in Dallas

        June 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm

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