Game 2013.141: Tigers at Royals

81-59, first place, 6.5 games ahead of the Indians. Too early to start talking about magic numbers. When GAMES REMAINING/GAMES AHEAD = <2, magic number time begins.

After a couple days off, one of which counted in the standings, the Tigers are back at it with three against the Royals in KC. (By the way, the weekend forecast for KC MO is scorching heat. The good news is that only Sunday is a day game. Fister might pitch well in heat, I don’t know, but I fear for his longevity.) If you’ve followed the Detroit Tigers much this season, you already know the book on Tigers-Royals:

1. Neither team hits much against the other.
2. The Royals are going to steal bases at will.
3. With a little more help from the hitters, the starters could have carried the Tigers to a good 12 wins over KC. 15-4 against the Indians, and – what in the world??
4. The games will be contested and close; these two squads have been playing playoff baseball against each other all season.

The season series stands at 6-7. 43 RS, 43 RA – how ’bout them apples? A review of the last 5, which played like an ALDS:

TIGERS 4 Royals 1 WRAP
Royals 2 TIGERS 1 WRAP
Royals 3 TIGERS 0 WRAP
TIGERS 6 Royals 5 WRAP
TIGERS 6 Royals 3 WRAP

The Royals aren’t out of it. A sweep and they are way in it. Watch out, Tigers. Get your runs early and keep your starters out there for 7. Liable to be trouble otherwise.

Say what you will about the 20-4 drubbing at the hands of the Red Sox, but it’s not an indictment of the whole team. OK, so it’s a mistake to push Porcello when he’s fading. OK, so Alburquerque makes one of those pitches that the batter doesn’t miss a bit of, and now the Tigers won’t get back into this one. So it’s a 10-4 loss, more or less, after half of a tight game. What transpired thereafter, however, is an indictment of some of the more marginal bullpen pieces (shards? crumbs?), Alburquerque included, and also of Jim Leyland. Regardless of the score, I don’t think it’s ever a “waste of a pitcher” to make a serious effort to record outs. I don’t understand leaving someone out there to be hammered, batter after batter. I don’t agree that it would have been ridiculous to bring in Smyly, Veras, Rondon, or even Benoit. Whatever it took. If “getting it over with” was the idea,  getting some outs would have been a good way to go about it. Put the 14 runs allowed over 3 innings on Leyland’s ERA.

Tigers have given up 13 or more runs 3 times on Wednesdays this season. Which hasn’t otherwise been an unusual day of the week for the Tigers.

Seems as though Iglesias will be back in the lineup, the shin splints not being the news they appeared to be. Still a concern, though. There didn’t appear to be a cloud in the Iglesias sky up until now. Visions of 10-15 years of seriously deranged shortstopitude. Miggy? Well, we just don’t seem to know any more, do we? Day to day.

Just as I’d gotten to thinking that maybe Fister was the odd man out rather than Porcello, and even had thoughts of a 6-man rotation in 2014 (dream on – innovation from Leyland? Ha!), I’m disillusioned again. And then it hit me – Porcello belongs in the bullpen!* I really think so. Ah, but he’ll probably insist on a starting role, and he’ll probably be doing that elsewhere in 2014. Too bad, because I think Porcello would excel in the bullpen. He might yet, somewhere, someday. I think he’s reached his ceiling as a starter, however. Usually gassed after 5. Not real promising for a starter. A 24 year old starter.

*Not claiming it’s an original idea.

So where does everyone stand on Jhonny Peralta? Bring him back for the anticipated post-season? I don’t see why not, myself. What’s not to like about that bat on the bench?

More to come on that constant thorn in our side, the Tigers bullpen, but feel free to get started…

TIGERS BULLPEN GIVEN ANY LEAD: 0.92 RPG, 68-8 team W-L 

TIGERS BULLPEN GIVEN A TIE: 1.56 RPG, 6-10 team W-L

TIGERS BULLPEN GIVEN ANY DEFICIT: 2.20 RPG, 6-40 team W-L

5+ RUN LEAD: 0.58 RPG, 29-0

4 RUN LEAD: 1.00 RPG, 14-1

3 RUN LEAD: 0.92 RPG, 12-0

2 RUN LEAD: 1.38 RPG, 5-3

1 RUN LEAD: 1.33 RPG, 8-4

TIE GAME: 1.56 RPG, 6-10

1 RUN BEHIND: 1.46 RPG, 3-10

2 RUNS BEHIND: 2.20 RPG, 2-13

3 RUNS BEHIND: 3.63 RPG, 0-8

4 RUNS BEHIND: 0.25 RPG, 0-4

5+ RUNS BEHIND: 3.17 RPG, 1-5

Ah, numbers. What to make of it all?

The Tigers bullpen has fared pretty well against the Royals. This would be a good time for them and the pitching staff in general to rise to the occasion after a pretty shaky week or so. Anibal’s last loss came against the Royals, and it was a hard-luck affair for him. Maybe the bats can get him some runs this time. Hitting has been none too perky just lately in terms of converting hits into runs. Go Tigers.

58 Comments

  1. Coleman

    September 6, 2013 at 12:40 am

    It’s always good to have some perspective now and then. For example: yesterday was the 10 year anniversary of Mike Maroth recording his 20th loss–and he was arguably the best pitcher on the team.

    • Smoking Loon

      September 6, 2013 at 1:57 am

      A lot of good and pretty good pitchers have lost 20 games or close to it. Makes sense, really. The record tends to say more about the team. They wouldn’t keep running you out there to lose ‘em if you weren’t one of the horses, generally speaking.

  2. William

    September 6, 2013 at 8:10 am

    re: Porcello leaving next year….is he a FA? Can we afford to pay Max and Fister both?

    • Smoking Loon

      September 6, 2013 at 7:38 pm

      Not a FA until 2016. Arbitration eligible.

  3. judpma

    September 6, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Porcella is as good a fifth starter as anyone has in baseball. He is only 24-25 years old. In pitching terms he is still a kid. Has more wins than any other 24 year old in the MLB. As rare as Verlander and Scherzer are to find, the same can be said of Porcello. In fact there hasn’t exactly been a world of difference between Porcello and Verlander this year!….everyone is ready to throw him in the bullpen or trade him. Are we sure Smyly will be a better starter.? Sure?..The Tigers have the best starting rotation in all of baseball and last time I looked Porcello is part of that rotation.

    • Smoking Loon

      September 6, 2013 at 7:33 pm

      My sudden wave of pessimism about Porcello might be rash. Then again, maybe the earlier optimism was also rash.

      Porcello may be average or above average as a fifth starter; I’m not sure. But fifth starters either become something more or get replaced. You don’t plan your rotation around them.

      Porcello is in his fifth full season. He’s not a kid. There’s a lot to be said for him, but I’ll stick with the against line for now,

      One difference between Verlander and Porcello is that Verlander is 30 and can pitch a complete game.

      No, we’re not sure Smyly will be a better starter. We’re sure he’s a better pitcher, though.

      For every outstanding Porcello performance, there’s been another where he’s been roughed up. His stats obviously bring down the entire rotation’s. He’s the only full-time starter with negative WPA and RE24. That is telling.

      The Tigers could do better. Do they need to? I don’t know. Depends when you ask, maybe.

      • Vince in MN

        September 6, 2013 at 8:24 pm

        The Tigers have lots of in-house options for a different No. 5 starter. Or even a cheap reclam project/vet in FA. Porcello makes good trade bait for areas where they don’t have good options, for example catcher and bench help to name the most glaring. I would think Porcello would bring a fair return to improve in those areas.

        • Smoking Loon

          September 6, 2013 at 11:39 pm

          I agree. Porcello to the Indians for Yan Gomes and (new third base coach) Jason Giambi.

  4. Coleman

    September 6, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    Tigers will have to watch out for that Coleman guy on KC (3-0, 0.38).

  5. Smoking Loon

    September 6, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    He still reminds me of Alburquerque.

    • Coleman

      September 6, 2013 at 11:03 pm

      Think they would swap?

      • Smoking Loon

        September 6, 2013 at 11:37 pm

        I would. Coleman and Alburquerque could go back and forth between KC and Detroit, maybe. An exchange student sort of thing. Coleman has a lot to learn about giving up grand slams, and Alburquerque would benefit from the company of actual major league relievers.

  6. Smoking Loon

    September 6, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    In case it wasn’t clear enough about the bullpen stats above, an example:

    In 12 games, the starter has come out and turned things over to the bullpen with a 1 run lead. Relievers have allowed a total of 16 runs in those games, for an average of 1.33 RPG. In no more than 3 innings on average and probably closer to 2. The Tigers have gone 8-4 in these games. That’s nice. Allowing 1.33 runs with a 1 run lead is not so good. That is the picture my numbers tend to paint.

  7. Smoking Loon

    September 6, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Iglesias won’t be starting after all. That’s bogus.

  8. Smoking Loon

    September 6, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    The Tigers could solve a lot of their problems, or our problems, or maybe just my problems, by converting Matt Tuiasosopo into a catcher. He does have a great arm.

    • Vince in MN

      September 6, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      Dirks seems to be holding his own in his platoon role over the last month: .273/.378/.416/.793. And he has actually walked more than struck out in that time (private talks with Don Kelly?). If he had done this over the course of the whole season, we’d be jumping for joy.

      • Smoking Loon

        September 6, 2013 at 11:41 pm

        Aside from the silly pickoff at 3B (FSD didn’t give us a replay, wonder why), tonight was a Dirkso Inferno. Burn, baby, burn (burn the mother down).

  9. mcb

    September 6, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    This is not a good start

    • Smoking Loon

      September 6, 2013 at 11:42 pm

      All’s well that ends well.

  10. judpma

    September 6, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    lets see Butler hits .293…but against the Tigs he hits about .900…I have an idea..lets pitch him like other teams do!!!!!

    • Smoking Loon

      September 6, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      They could bring in Porcello to face him, whom everyone combined hits .293 against. Approximately.

  11. Vince in MN

    September 6, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    A run, without having to do the station-to-station thing.

  12. judpma

    September 6, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    wow the BOB’s strike early..heck yea!

  13. Vince in MN

    September 6, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Santiago picking up some of the slack in limited time also: .315/.356/.370/.726 since Aug 1.

    • Smoking Loon

      September 6, 2013 at 11:44 pm

      Writing guys off really seems to help, I’ve noticed.

  14. judpma

    September 6, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    Santiago was a dead duck at home…Brookens must have known the relay guy would drop the ball…thats how Brookens and Leyland work!!!..-2..but they lucked out -1

  15. judpma

    September 6, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    keep pouring it on..these guys can score…great start!

  16. judpma

    September 6, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    read today Tigs have allowed 23 consecutive steals now we can keep track….when do we start that pool??

  17. Vince in MN

    September 6, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    Two hits in a row for Avila. Shields clearly doesn’t have it tonight.

  18. judpma

    September 6, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    you will have to excuse Avila there he very seldom gets on third kinda lost it there!

  19. Vince in MN

    September 6, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    Do the Tigers go on the road with their Clown Show Baserunning Clinic in the offseason.

    • Smoking Loon

      September 6, 2013 at 11:46 pm

      Lost in the Boston Massacre, I seem to recall, was a third inning where the Tigers put on an exemplary display of good baserunning. It was one of those games against the Red Sox, anyway. Rare treat.

  20. tbran

    September 6, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    No respect (or fear) shown for Ingevila by KC. In a game where Shields just aint got it, down by 5 with the bases loaded and KC leaves the struggling starter in to face Avila. Guess KC knows what most of us know — Avila is nothng to fear.

    • Smoking Loon

      September 6, 2013 at 11:48 pm

      One thing to like about Avila is how he avoids the GIDP with the strikeout. Baseball strategy can be subtle.

  21. judpma

    September 6, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    lets go for 20..i heard a team did that once recently!

  22. tbran

    September 6, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    Infante = under rated big time.

  23. StorminNorman$

    September 6, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Omar God!

  24. StorminNorman$

    September 6, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    good time to give Cabrera the remainder of night off

    • Smoking Loon

      September 6, 2013 at 11:55 pm

      He didn’t look so hot. Or maybe it was just the heat. I guess I expected a little more spring in the step after a day off.

  25. judpma

    September 6, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    POG…….the BOB’s..10 hits..8 runs…7 rbi

  26. StorminNorman$

    September 6, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    NYY was leading BOS 8-3 at the end of 5, NYY is now trailing BOS 11-8 in the 8th

    • Vince in MN

      September 6, 2013 at 10:43 pm

      Boston is a team that can slug it, so no surprises there. They lead the majors in runs. Tigers are 2nd.

  27. judpma

    September 6, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    that was big of Avila to give himself up in a DP to help move the game along..a true team player

    • Smoking Loon

      September 6, 2013 at 11:50 pm

      One thing to like about Avila is how he avoids the strikeout with the GIDP. Baseball strategy can be subtle.

  28. Vince in MN

    September 6, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Another big day at the dish for Omar.

  29. Vince in MN

    September 6, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    The last time Smyly pitched more than 1 inning was July 20th. He usually doesn’t even get that far. He’s been turned into Duane Below by Leyland.

    • Smoking Loon

      September 6, 2013 at 11:53 pm

      He’s a good multi-inning guy. I have no objection to bringing him in to face one batter as well, but I think he’s being wasted by being limited to any one set role.

      He wasn’t so sharp tonight, but it was good to see that he’s still on the team.

      • StorminNorman$

        September 7, 2013 at 11:20 am

        Smyly hasn’t been bad over the past month or so, but he went from being lights out to a bit erratic and hittable… not sure if its an arm-issue or misusing him or what, but there are not too many (if any) very reliable pieces in the DET bullpen, and that’s a little scary

        • Smoking Loon

          September 7, 2013 at 4:10 pm

          It is. We can take some comfort in the fact that a remarkable 20% of games this season have been turned over to said scary bullpen with a 5+ run lead.

          • Smoking Loon

            September 7, 2013 at 4:11 pm

            Make that 21%.

  30. judpma

    September 6, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    11-10 finish to 93 wins mean Cleveland needs to go 18-4….were running out of wiggle room for Cleveland

    • Smoking Loon

      September 7, 2013 at 12:06 am

      8-13, 15-7. It would be nice to count the Indians out. Can’t do it as yet.

  31. PHToy in HK

    September 7, 2013 at 2:41 am

    With 11 runners LOB it’s amazing that they managed to get the win.

    • Coleman

      September 7, 2013 at 10:09 am

      Don’t let Avila’s 3-for-5 night fool you–he cost them some runs with those 5 LOB. We’ll never score 20 with guys slacking like that.

  32. Coleman

    September 7, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Home games at Comerica will be a little more quiet. Singing Hot Dog Man fired:
    http://www.freep.com/article/2.....309060136/

  33. StorminNorman$

    September 7, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Castellanos was supposed to the start in LF tonight, but with Dirks going 5 for 5…

    though with Duffy pitching for KC (6 innings of 1 hit ball against DET a few weeks ago), Castellanos might want to time his starting debut for tomorrow…?

    • Smoking Loon

      September 7, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      I’m guessing Dirks in RF tonight.

  34. Vince in MN

    September 7, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    The slugging Red Sox are pummeling the Yanks again today. Every pitch must look like a basketball to these guys right now.