Game 2014.53: Tigers at Mariners

Sometimes the other pitcher is just better. You gotta tip your cap to Chris Young. Lots of fly balls, but lots of weak fly balls and pop-ups. The Mariners eeked out two runs on a bloop, a hope, and a prayer, and we just gotta understand that this will happen over a long season.

This good pitching thing shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, as pitchers are dominating like no other time in recent history. SI had a great article about this a few weeks ago – but here’s a brief AL historical comparison using SO/9 and FIP ERA.

1984: 5.01/4.02

1994: 6.1/4.74

2004: 6.4/4.53

2014: 7.6/3.87

That is a tremendous jump in K/9 as strikeouts are up over 50% in 30 years. I’d have to go back and look, but sub 4 ERAs league wide is definitely a new phenomenon.

Now let’s look at hitting – I’ll use OPS.

1984: .724

1994: .779

2004: .771

2014: .715

As you can see, 2014 is likely going to set a recent historic low for hitting in the AL. The same is true in the NL. SI credited this to the rise of the power pitcher, bullpen specialization, and a slightly larger strike zone.

I don’t mind the pitching dominance, but let’s keep this in mind as the Tigers get bettered by average pitching from time to time.

Also, you may like this recent article by Tom Verducci talking about the ever slowing pace of play, with ideas on how to fix it.

On to today’s game – Mad Max climbs the hill for a 4:10 eastern start against Roenis Elias. Scherzer has been bombed his last two starts out, though he managed to avoid a decision in either game. I’m looking forward to a typical Scherzer dominating performance and a comfortable series win headed into an off day. I mean, we’re not going to go two weeks without winning a series, right?

Traveling later today, please post the lineup when avail.


  1. 80HD

    June 1, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    What’s up with Smyly? 4 IP and 105 pitches. That’s really been his signature lately – having a really high pitch count very early in his last few. I know he’s the fifth starter but going five or six doesn’t seem like asking a lot. Nice work out of the pen though. Reed, AlAl and Krol combined for 4 IP 0 R, 1 H, 5K, 0 BB. I’ll take as much of that as I can get.

    • Smoking Loon

      June 1, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      Yeah, Smyly has been a different guy ever since Cleveland. I expect the talk of moving him to the bullpen to resurface.

      • Vince in MN

        June 1, 2014 at 4:40 pm

        They may end up deciding (when?) to send him down to work on stuff. If he has lost his command, moving him to the bullpen makes no sense and the Tigers need a 5th starter with few off days coming up. I doubt that Ray would be his replacement at this point. Maybe Below? I expect some roster moves will be made soon, possibly during the upcoming home stand, and not necessarily of only the pitching type.

  2. Smoking Loon

    June 1, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    LF Davis
    2B Kinsler
    1B Cabrera
    DH Martinez
    RF Hunter
    CF Jackson
    3B Castellanos
    C Holaday
    SS Worth has J.D Martinez at DH. Beck disagrees. I’m playing it safe. A day off for V-Mart DHing would kind of throw me for a loop.

  3. Smoking Loon

    June 1, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Nice article by Verducci. Thanks for the link, Kevin.

    I agree with everything Verducci says, with the exception of a) limits on pitching changes, and b) the “illegal defense” proposal.

    a) Like the possible results, just think it’s too intrusive. Burning a relief pitcher to face one batter is such a questionable strategy that it ought to become extinct all by itself. Believe me, I absolutely HATE the commercial breaks imposed on me by mid-inning pitching changes, and you cannot even jump over them if you’re watching the game after the game on 2 warmup tosses – or none – for relievers would solve that problem for me.

    b) I like the increasing use of defensive shifts and less obvious examples of intelligent, data-based positioning (I’m not so sure pitchers are always pitching to those shifts as they should be, though). It’s up to the hitters to counter it. It takes the game up a notch strategically, and it is long overdue.

    I do not appreciate the constant stepping out by batters and frequent stepping off by pitchers. I want to see these guys play, not watch their tiresome rituals ad infinitum. I don’t know if I want to see a 12-second clock added to the other 300 mini-graphics on the screen, though. I think I’d be willing to leave it to the ump’s discretion.

    What about the time-killing throws to hold runners? I’m sick of the silly lobs I see from Scerzer (among others). I propose that you get one pickoff throw. Spend it wisely.

    • Vince in MN

      June 1, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      There already is a 20-second rule for pitchers (or used to be anyway and st one time scoreboard clocks were installed). As far as the batter goes, the umpire does not have to give him the time out to step out. In fact, it could be argued that part of an ump’s job is to keep the game moving. A reminder of this would not be out of place.

      • Smoking Loon

        June 1, 2014 at 5:37 pm

        True, much of this is already within the power of the umpires to enforce. The question is whether MLB would stand behind the umpires in the face of complaints from players and managers.

        • Vince in MN

          June 1, 2014 at 5:52 pm

          If the games drag on and on, people lose interest. Baseball already has the reputation of being boring because slow for many. Where is the “value” in that. MLB should follow the money.

          • Smoking Loon

            June 1, 2014 at 6:17 pm

            I don’t think that baseball can (or should) be changed enough to satisfy the vast majority of the “too slow” people on the outside looking in. It’s a point of debate among the converted only, I’m afraid. MLB already has my money, and canceling my wouldn’t get any of it back. Also, I get the sense that this is a point of debate among the TV-watching audience only. Fans who attend the games don’t seem to mind longer games, and why would they.

            • Vince in MN

              June 1, 2014 at 9:06 pm

              I would have thought that watching a game on tv/listening on radio would be an incentive to attending one live. That was my experience growing up anyway, but maybe that is just so 60s-ish.

              When I attend a game in person, I almost always stay til the last out (unless it is a real blowout), but I notice a lot of people leave early no matter what the score. Maybe that’s only here in Minnesota though.

              • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

                June 2, 2014 at 1:44 pm

                During the Tiger v. Rangers games I have attended, many folks arrive late and leave early. I must be too old school as I arrive for BP (or as soon as the gates are opened) and stay to the last pitch – it ain’t over until it’s over! These days, tickets cost too much to come late and leave early! Before the game allows me to read the tea leaves from the night before scorecard. Also just watching the fans and players in pre-game mode is enjoyable. I am not one to get player autographs, but have learned that you can pick up lots about a player’s character by just watching them during pre-game.

  4. jud

    June 1, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    One change I have noticed from Smyly from spring training thru Cleveland thru last night is the number of pitches he bounces up to the catcher. In the past two starts there have been about 25 one hoopers…A very large number when you think about it…Have know idea why ..its only 60 feet!

    • Smoking Loon

      June 1, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      I noticed all the balls in the dirt against the Indians (hard not to). It seemed to me that he tried to counter that vs, the A’s – result, 4 HR. Last night, it back in the dirt. He’s nibbling, fussing, being way too deliberate, pitching with no confidence.

  5. Vince in MN

    June 1, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    I am getting verrry sleepy.

  6. Vince in MN

    June 1, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Scherzer rapidly reaching his pitch limit: 84 pitches + 35 tosses to 1st.

    • Smoking Loon

      June 1, 2014 at 6:05 pm

      No kidding. He’s the slowest guy in the rotation. Not so bad when he’s pitching really well. Otherwise… yes, boring.

      • Vince in MN

        June 1, 2014 at 6:18 pm

        Do 30 Million Dollar men have stretches like this?

        • Smoking Loon

          June 1, 2014 at 6:21 pm

          Ha. Great minds think alike. Wrote below with no knowledge of your comment.

  7. Smoking Loon

    June 1, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Yup, keep serving ’em up, Cy Scherzer.

  8. Coleman

    June 1, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    The Mariners are apparently chock full of Cy Young candidates, time to run off and find a cap for tipping. This Willie guy is pretty unstoppable too.

    • Smoking Loon

      June 1, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      Odd that they hit the real Cy, Iwakuma, and no one else. Also kind of shame to drop this series with M’s minus Cano (who, to be fair, might not be much against the Tigers for the most part anyway) and missing King Felix. Opportunity lost. As Kevin alludes to, Fenway was the last series win for Detroit. Seems like a long time ago.

  9. Vince in MN

    June 1, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Note to Smokey Jr.: Don’t (despite what advice Genius may have given you) sit a guy down when he is hot with an 11-game hitting streak. Kinsler since his day off: 3 for 26.

  10. Smoking Loon

    June 1, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    I have a sour reaction to the usual review of this kind of Scherzer outing, that he “gutted out” 7 innings or whatever. But it is true that he ate some innings. Any kind of hitting at all and it’s a game. OK, good, or fair, whatever. But I’d still like to see the would-be $30M Man pitch like it every third start or so.

  11. Vince in MN

    June 1, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Smokey Jr. throws in the towel – brings Coke in with 2 out none on in top of 7th. I’m going to mow the lawn now.

    • Smoking Loon

      June 1, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      Yeah, I was going to ask Coleman if Coke is the new Human White Flag.

      • Smoking Loon

        June 1, 2014 at 6:29 pm

        Impressive control of the running game by Coke. Also avoids pitches. I like it.

  12. Angus

    June 1, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    I do not think this lineup can come back from a 4 run deficit. Hopefully a home stand will change our luck.

    • Smoking Loon

      June 1, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Does seem pretty dismal. If it wasn’t Sunday, I might be moving onto something else right about now.

  13. 80HD

    June 1, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    Forty years of obsession with Tigers and I get the whole “it’s a long season” thing and I’m still not sure what to think of this team. I thought starting pitching would be great, hitting/defense would be enough and bullpen would cause me to drink (more). Victor and MC have been great but I think not enough. Need production somewhere else. I’d like to see JD Martinez get some steady AB – see what we’ve got. He’s a surprisingly good OF. Maybe give Torii a break in RF once in a while.

    • Smoking Loon

      June 1, 2014 at 7:02 pm

      I wouldn’t mind seeing J.D. a bit more often, but I don’t have tremendous expectations. He’s Tuiasosopo without the eye for the strike zone and with less talent for hitting mistake pitches, in my view. I think the Astros gave up on him because they didn’t need this kind of role player. The Tigers do until Dirks comes back, and who knows how well Dirks will come back.

  14. jud

    June 1, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Miggy and Victor and the 7 slugs offense have been like this ffor weeks not days

  15. Angus

    June 1, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Bats have been really weak over this stretch. I agree on JD. Would like to see him as well and we had better get a better lineup than AJ protecting VMart. With 5 through 8 hitters being what they are, people are just going to start walking Miggy and VMart all day long.

    • Smoking Loon

      June 1, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      This lineup tends to get exposed when the starting pitching isn’t really good. I’m still surprised by how seldom the offense seems to pick up the starters when they sag. Maybe it just seems like seldom. We’re a tough crowd.

  16. Coleman

    June 1, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    It seems the Tigers read Verducci’s article that Kevin linked, and worked out their own way of speeding up the game.

  17. jud

    June 1, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Can’t wait for Smokey jr to whine after the game that this is just baseball and there is nothing you can possibky do to fix this. It will fix itself….

    Also he will tip his hat to every bum off the street that shuts down the 7 slug offense

    • Smoking Loon

      June 2, 2014 at 1:28 am

      It’s actually a 4 slug offense. Great starting pitching can overcome that (27-12). Inconsistent starting pitching can’t (31-22). If they can get it down to a 3 slug offense and click on 3 of 5 pitching cylinders, I could see (41-26).

  18. Vince in MN

    June 1, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    We’ll be fine. 3-4 west coast road trip not unusual when you take the historical perspective. Big home stand coming up and we play better at home. It’s a long season. It’s a process. Play them one game at a time and all we need to do is go .500 from now through game 162 and we will win the division. Remember, making the playoffs is the important thing because anything can happen then.

    • Jim EggersUSMC

      June 1, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      Agree, time to mow lawns and pick up twigs…

  19. Coleman

    June 1, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    The Tigers face 3 left-handers on this road trip. They went 0-3 with only 1 run in 24 2/3 innings against the lefty starters (that’s a 0.36 ERA), with 2 complete games.

    Why can’t the Tigers hit lefties?

    • Smoking Loon

      June 2, 2014 at 1:21 am

      I thought they were hitting lefties until recently. Weren’t they 10-2 against LHP starters, or at least in games started by lefties, not so long ago?

      • Coleman

        June 2, 2014 at 11:35 am

        It’s pretty close for the season, .713 OPS vs LHP, .758 vs RHP. Which makes me say ehh about the whole “we need a left-handed bat” thing. We just need another bat period.

        • Smoking Loon

          June 2, 2014 at 7:55 pm


  20. StorminNorman$

    June 1, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Been traveling so i missed/didn’t follow the past two games w/SEA…but in checking the box score/recap i see where that’s probably a good thing. I had been thinking (hoping) we’d see an uptick w/DET hitting once June started… obviously not the case today. (June)…in like a lamb, out like a lion…er, ah i mean ‘Tiger’?

    The upcoming 6-game home stand is going to be anything but easy, as 3 w/TOR and 3 w/BOS – two possible playoff teams (match ups?)

    • Smoking Loon

      June 2, 2014 at 1:36 am

      Second game v. Seattle was good. I think we’re on an upward trend. Couldn’t get too much worse that that CLE to OAK 1-7 (I hope).

  21. Judpma

    June 1, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    in the what have you done lately stat..last 10 games… I might have missed one or two but actually there wasn;t that much to record in the 4-6 games

    the only odd stat was Kinsler having two three hit games early in the 10 then only 4
    our # 4 batter has only scored when he knocked himself in ,in the 10 games
    all in all Seeing that Captain Smarty totally blames the starting pitching for this 4-6 stretch…I respectfully differ with him…I think its 50-50 no hitting no pitching

  22. Coleman

    June 2, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    I usually hate off days, but Detroit needs this one.

  23. jud

    June 3, 2014 at 12:30 am


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