This afternoon the Detroit Tigers have a chance to do something they have yet to attempt in 2014: pass another team in the standings.
They will be doing it without Evan “Charges Pending” Reed, who got the DFA boot in favor of reliever Chad Smith. Smith, from USC, was a bit of a gamble pick in the 2011 draft–after the draft he had Tommy John surgery, then sat out a year. The gamble seems to have paid off, with Smith progressing smartly through the Tiger system. Smith brings a good sinker ball that can reach the low 90’s, and had a 1.87 ground ball to fly ball ratio at Toledo. It’s a bit of a departure from the high heat approach of an Evan Reed, but right now departures are good.
Hopefully Drew Smyly can depart from the starter trend in this series; I’ll take 4 runs in 6 innings. Otherwise we get to listen to Mario and Rod rave about how the Royals offense is hot and clicking on all cylinders like they have the past 2 days (funny how Verlander runs into “hot” offenses every start). Another dose of that and Jeremy Guthrie–Jeremy Guthrie!–pitching like Cy Young, and there will be rending of garments.
Troubling stat of the day: over the last 7 games, Miguel Cabrera has a higher OPS (.641) than Don Kelly and Austin Jackson, and that’s it.
Note: Jason Beck tweets that currently Verlander is throwing a side session in the bullpen, with Ausmus and others looking on. So they are working on stuff.
Today’s We Try Harder Because We’re in Second Lineup:
Torii sits again, as the hot JD Martinez tries to stake his claim on the 5 spot. Alex is bumped up in the lineup to 6th. Ausmus is playing the matchup here: Avila was 4-for-9 with 2 HRs against Guthrie in 2013. Kelly subs for Ajax to add another lefty bat.