Game 2013.79: Tigers at Rays

43-35, 1st place, 2 games ahead of Cle (did you see their sweep over Chi yesterday? 46 total runs between the teams. Check out these box scores).

Now, that was a fun game. Miggy went 4-4 with 2 no-doubters, and Prince hit a rafter. He would have hit it out of the stadium had it been hit in a stadium. According to the ESPN, Fielder’s homerun was estimated at 414 feet, which is a bit embarassing matched up against Miggy’s second at 432 feet. It sure looked like Fielder’s ball would have gone much, much further hat it not been impeded by the rafter. We’ll never know.

And then there’s Mad Max Scherzer. Max is now the first pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1986 to start a season 12-0. He very may well be starting the All Star game in two weeks. Though I’m going to get very queasy when they put up a graphic titled “Last Tiger to Start the All-Star Game…”

Justin Verlander throws today. Well, hopefully, he’ll be pitching today. He’s definitely lost his paintbrush as of late, and it’s cause for concern. Earlier this month, I posted that JV’s peripherals suggested that he’s been unlucky, but otherwise pitching near career norms. Since then he’s had 1 brilliant game (which was lost by Toledo’s current closer) and 2 awful ones. Over his last 9 games Just-another-guy Verlander is 3-3, with a 6.04 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, and 3.90 BB/9. All of those are simply awful (though curiously, he’s still posting an extremely impressive K rate – 10.65 K/9). We’ve discussed the foul ball issue on here and I started looking for foul ball stats. I couldn’t find any (if you can find them, please let me know and I’ll take a look), so then I started looking for reasons why (a) his BABIP against is so high and (b) he’s getting a lot of foul balls. My feeble baseball mind suggested less movement on his pitches and poor counts. Let’s take a closer look.

Look at this chart which reflects what happens on balls in play on certain counts.

Count

# of Events

Opp. BA

Opp. OPS

Opp. BABIP

0-0

46

.244

.728

.205

1-1

12

.433

1.033

.414

2-1

24

.591

1.587

.500

3-1

18

.222

.833

.222

I omitted 1-0 and 2-0 because there were so few balls in play.

Obviously, 1-1 and 2-1 count events are astonishing. I know that I’m presenting this without league or team averages, so it makes it difficult to really draw any conclusions, but the numbers speak for themselves. (I ran out of time and plan to do that part tonight or early tomorrow – so stay tuned).

Now, JV throws his fastball more than anything else. His fastball contact rate this season is 86%, versus 81.2% for 2012, and 83.6% for his career. His fastball swinging strike rate is 7.1% in 2013, down from 9.9% in 2012 and 8.3% for his career. Those are significant changes.

So his fastball is either slower, or not moving. Or, gasp, both. Well, his average fastball this year is 93.6 MPH, compared to 94.7 last year and 94.8 for his career. And, using PitchFX data, we can conclude that it’s not moving as much in 2013. I believe that this partially explains why the BABIP against and foul ball numbers are so high.

Thus, we’re left with “what does this mean?” Far from my area of expertise, but I would guess that it’s something mechanical, or mental, considering his age. But a full season of this and the high innings over the past three years are going to get heavier and heavier.

****************

Tonight’s Potential Series Clinching Lineup:

1. Jackson, CF
2. Dirks, LF
3. The Man, 3B
4. Fielder, 1B
5. Martinez, DH
6. Peralta, SS
7. Kelly, RF
8. Infante, 2B
9. Pena, C

20 Comments

  1. Vince in MN

    June 29, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Looks like the bullpen is going to get some work tonight. Is Smyly the long man?

  2. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    June 29, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Good pre-game write-up/analysis Kevin!

  3. judpma

    June 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    seems like this year batters are not getting to that 2 strike count where JV can make you look pretty bad..your chart seems to show some of that about hitting with less than 2 strikes. That seems to be the plan for hitters against him around baseball…

  4. Kevin in Dallas

    June 29, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    JV struggled again tonight. Lots of baserunners. But props to him for fighting through.

  5. mcb

    June 29, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Surprised he’s back out there. Also don’t get Kelly batting 7th. If he must play put him 9th.

  6. Kevin in Dallas

    June 29, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Luke freaking Scott.

  7. TIGERS RULE

    June 29, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Smokey once again leaves a pitcher in for one batter too long!

    • Vince in MN

      June 29, 2013 at 10:19 pm

      It’s better to show confidence than win games.

  8. Kevin in Dallas

    June 29, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    Lets pick up JV boys.

  9. jud

    June 29, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    0 chance to win this game following the Scott blow..how many times has Scott done something like that to the Tigers..

  10. Kevin in Dallas

    June 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Anyone else second guessing the Smyly pull?

  11. mcb

    June 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Why was Jackson so shallow?

  12. Vince in MN

    June 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    What can I say that I haven’t said many many times in the last 7 and 1/2 years?

  13. Angus

    June 29, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    I hope Mr. I likes watching Ol Smoky lose another stupid game. Thank god we are in the Central.

  14. jud

    June 29, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    hey! the Pussycats can’t play hard for 7 innings, ever…how can you expect them to win a game that goes 10…..

  15. judpma

    June 29, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    way to ease the kid into the libeup Mumbles!!!!!..was Smyly tired from his one whole inning????

  16. Coleman

    June 30, 2013 at 12:34 am

    Tomorrow should be interesting. Leyland said “there is a price to pay for that” when a a guy throws at a guy’s head like Rodney did to Cabrera.

    • Coleman

      June 30, 2013 at 2:03 am

      And before that he said “You can’t throw it upstairs. That won’t be tolerated.”

      So what does “that won’t be tolerated” and “there is a price to pay” mean? And to think poor Rick Porcello takes the mound tomorrow. Will we get to see another Youkilis-Throwdown scenario? Stay tuned.

      • Jerry the Tiger Fan

        June 30, 2013 at 2:22 am

        What I fervently hope happens is that Porcello goes headhunting tomorrow and there is a bench-clearing brawl where Leyland gets picked up and planted into the Tropicana field turf head first. I don’t know how a 68 year old man would recover from that and we would finally be rid of Ol’ Smoky. That is my lurid fantasy of what I hope happens at the Trop tomorrow because Lord knows that ol’ Double D will never fire the old codger.

        • Kevin in Dallas

          June 30, 2013 at 7:47 am

          Funny, but maybe a little extreme. Let’s not forget back to back ALCS appearances. Someone has to get credit for that.