Game 2015.52: Tigers at Angels

Well, in other news, Verlander pitched today for Toledo. 6 H and 3 ER in 2 2/3. Let’s just assume he was throwing all straight balls as he hopped back on the bike for the first time in a while.

Anyone have any good baseball news they want to post.

1. Anthony Gose, CF

2. Ian Kinsler, 2B

3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B

4. Yoenis Cespedes, LF

5. J.D. Martinez, RF

6. Tyler Collins, DH

7. James McCann, C

8. Jose Iglesias, SS

9. Andrew Romine, 3B

Game 2015.51: Tigers at Angels

Scared hitless?

I am…

1. Anthony Gose, CF
2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
4. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
5. J.D. Martinez, RF
6. Tyler Collins, DH
7. James McCann, C
8. Nick Castellanos, 3B
9. Jose Iglesias, SS

Game 2015.50: Tigers at Angels

Tigers got hammered last night. I should have taken the cue.

Didn’t have high hopes with Buck Farmer on the mound, hopefully both teams got it out of their system.

Come on, Sanchez.

Game 2015.49: Tigers at Angels

The Tigers exploded for 3 runs yesterday, which was enough to hold off the A’s for a 3-2 victory and series win. 4 runs in 3 games isn’t the way I would have called it, but a series win is a series win. This doesn’t do much, however, to dampen the loud concerns regarding this offense.

I know I mentioned last week that the dearth of run production emanates from the 4 hole, but the Tigers have now slipped to 8th in the AL in runs scored. Not a good place to be considering Sanchez’s struggles and the inexperience of the back end of our rotation.

Speaking of rotation, I thought it might be fun to check in on a few old Tigers pitchers. Let’s see what they are up to!

Max Scherzer is enjoying his time in the NL, and is likely the front runner for NL Cy Young 1/3 of the way into the season. Scherzer is currently cruising along with a 6-3 record, 1.51 ERA (yeah, that’s right), absurd .879 WHIP, and even more absurd 10.7 K/9. Washington paid handsomely for Scherzer, but I think they are okay with it right now.

Scherzer’s rotation mate, Doug Fister, has gotten off to a rough start this year after a 16-6/2.41 ERA 2014 that saw him finish 8th in Cy Young balloting (how good are NL pitchers/bad are NL hitters?). Fister is posting a 4.31 ERA (4.68 FIP) and 1.412 WHIP through 7 starts. Those numbers would be career worsts for him, so I expect him to rebound. The 3 guys we got in return for Fister? Ian Krol, who has become a marginal reliever, Steve Lombardozzi, who never played for the Tigers, and Robbie Ray, who was flipped for Shane Greene. Greene has been a pleasant surprise and costs 1/23 what Fister does, so overall not bad.

Drew Smyly got off to another promising start after a brilliant back half of the season with Tampa Bay last year (remember he was flipped there when we sent AJax to Sea to get Price at the trade deadline), but unfortunately has been shelved for the season with a shoulder injury. The kid had a 2.70 ERA and .78 WHIP through 3 starts this season before he was injured. He’s got a bright future in front of him.

I don’t know that I’d change anything that we’ve done so far, I mean, there was just no way we could keep Max with the Cabrera/Price/Verlander salaries on the books. But it’s always interesting to see how everyone is doing.

On to LAA.

Buck Farmer gets the spot start tonight for Kyle Lobstein. Farmer started two games last year, appeared in two others, and generally got drilled (though he did K 11 in 9.1 IP) so tonight could be a little bit of a ride. He’s been great this year at Toledo – 5-1, 2.98 ERA, .215 average allowed, 1.17 WHIP, and a 9 k/9 ratio. So let’s all keep hope alive.

Little different lineup tonight.

1. Davis, CF
2. Kinsler, 2B
3. Cabrera, 1B
4. Cespedes, LF
5. Martinez, RF
6. Castellanos, 3B
7. McCann, C
8. Iglesias, SS
9. Gose, CF

 

Game 2015.48: Tigers at Athletics

Perhaps he stayed up to watch the Tigers’ nail-biter last night; perhaps he was already asleep by then. Either way, Kyle Ryan couldn’t possibly have anticipated a call from the Big Club, especially one telling him that he was being called up. To start. Today. In Oakland.

Alfredo Simon, the scheduled starter, had to leave suddenly to be with his gravely ill father in the Dominican, and has been placed on the Bereavement List. Officially, today’s starter is still TBA, since the team isn’t sure Ryan’s plane will land in time to get him to the stadium in time to warm up and pitch. Ryan had hardly been impressing in Toledo: he was 0-5 with a 4.67 ERA, not to mention the jet-lag issue we discussed previously.  Plus he has two first names.

If Ryan can’t make it there by game time, I’m guessing that Alex Wilson will get the start.

[Update: Alex Wilson has been named starting pitcher.]

Either way, 1 run probably won’t do it today. The pitching and defense carried the team last night though; does anyone cover more ground in centerfield than Anthony Gose? Not to mention his hitting and legs got Detroit their only run. Player of the game, followed by everyone who pitched (even Joba has quietly become reliable).

Apparently last night some signs were missed. Notably, Castellanos missed a hit-and-run that left Cespedes out to dry, then flailed at a 3rd strike a foot in front of the plate to make matters worse. I think Brad pulling him early for defensive purposes (his spot was still due to come up again) was sending a message.

Today’s Let’s Try For at Least 2 Runs Today Whether We Need Them or Not Lineup:

  1. Rajai Davis, RF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  5. JD Martinez, DH
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. Bryan Holaday, C
  8. Dixon Machado, SS
  9. Anthony Gose, CF

Game 2015.47: Tigers at Athletics

Well, that was a forgettable start to the road trip, wasn’t it? Actually, it wasn’t as forgettable as I wish it were. It was also, somehow, the first time they were shut out this season.

If you knew that one of the teams on the field last night was the worst in baseball, it would have been hard to guess which one: the A’s kicking the ball around like they had taken the field with spiked clown shoes, or the Tigers who were unable to score a run off Cy Whatshisname, despite getting 4 guys freely clowned onto base.

To distract myself from the debacle, I read a rant by Cubs manager Joe Maddon about the horrible Memorial Day schedule.  Poor guy had to play a game that ended at 3:45 in Arizona on Sunday, then play another that began at 1:20 on Monday afternoon in Chicago. And this after traveling 1,700+ miles. “Quite frankly to play a day game two time zones away then come back [to] another one the next day … it’s tough,” Maddon said.

I mention this because the Tigers had a similar day game-day game turnaround, and had to travel through three time zones to do it. No whining from Brad though. I would chalk yesterday’s sluggishness up to travel fatigue, were it not for the fact that we’ve already seen the same a lot this month.

My annoyance with last night’s performance was exacerbated when Rod Allen said that Tiger pitchers can count on getting a lot of run support “with the potent offense the Tigers have.” Has he even been watching the games he broadcasts? Yes, the Tigers are at the top of the league in many offensive categories. But they also have already had 21 games with 2 runs or fewer (that’s 46%), including 12 already in May. (The Royals, by way of comparison, have 11 this season). That’s hardly “potent.”  The Tigers actually won 6 of those games, but I think counting on many more 1-0 and 2-1 wins is expecting a bit much out of the pitching staff.

Tonight’s Potent Third-Place Lineup:

  1. Anthony Gose, CF
  2. Rajai Davis, DH
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. JD Martinez, RF
  5. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Andrew Romine, SS
  9. Hernan Perez, 2B

Miguel is back in the lineup tonight, night-game woes and all (he is still struggling through a .231 night batting average, with a light-weight .689 OPS). Ian Kinsler, he of the 0-for-20 slump, finally gets his first day off of the season, to be replaced by Hernan the Barbarian, who could probably pull off an 0-for-20 if he only got enough playing time. Kind of makes you miss Don Kelly, doesn’t it?

Brad tries a little something different tonight and leads off with Gose followed by Davis. I like it.

Gold stars for any of you Eastern Time Zone fans who stay up for this one.

Game 2015.46: Tigers at Athletics

Well, and here I thought having Dixon Machado called up would mean that we’d be spared the awe-inspiring sight of Hernan Perez at the plate for a while. A lot of us have been saying that Ian Kinsler could really use a day off (he was 1-for-Houston, with a number of cringe-worthy strikeouts), so Brad Ausmus is giving the day off to…Miguel Cabrera, who just went 2-for-4 with a HR. Hmm. Miguel will be replaced by Babe Hernan Perez at first; Dixon Machado gets his first major league start at short.

There will be more days off coming I presume; the Tigers are beginning a West Coast trip without the usually travel day off, going from a late-afternoon Detroit game to an afternoon game on the West Coast, something I can’t remember happening in a long time.

They play three in Oakland, then travel down to maybe their least favorite place to play the LA Angels, which will give them 20 straight games without a day off by the time it is finished.

Kevin asked whether this is just a .500 team we are watching (throw out the first week-and-a-half of the season, and that is what they have been achieving). Something to ponder. The A’s have been struggling, but the Tigers have a habit of letting struggling teams off the hook (I’m sure when they read today’s lineup they felt the hook loosen a bit).

Hopefully the return to his old stomping grounds will put Yoenis Cespedes in a Home Run Derby kind of mood.

Today’s Jet-Lagged Lineup:

  1. Anthony Gose, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  3. JD Martinez, DH
  4. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  5. Tyler Collins, RF
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Hernan Perez, 1B
  9. Dixon Machado, SS

Here is a nice story about the cover photo. Hope everyone is enjoying their Memorial Day.

 

Game 2015.45: Astros at Tigers

This 2 runs or less thing is getting really old, really fast.

Losing today and splitting the series would feel like losing the series to me. Sanchez has more bad starts than quality starts this year.

Lobstein to the DL with “sore shoulder” (wth?); Iglesias is day-to-day.

1. Gose, CF
2. Kinsler, 2B
3. Cabrera, 3B
4. Martinez JD, DH
5. Cespedes, LF
6. Castellanos, 3B
7. Davis, RF
8. Holaday, C
9. Romine, SS

Game 2015.44: Astros at Tigers

Good win last night. Check that, great win. The Tigers got another outstanding start from Simon – 7 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 ER, JD Martinez hit a 3 run bomb (how many of those have there been this year?, and the bullpen went 6 up and 6 down. JD Martinez is now hitting .405 over his last 10 games with 15 hits, 2 HR and 5 RBI. Whatever funk he was in, he’s out.

So the Tigers are now in a great position to win a long series against the hottest team in the AL. Still got two games to go, but feels good for now.

Lobstein draws a rookie call-up, Lance McCullers today. McCullers made his big league debut on Monday striking in 4 2/3 while allowing 1 ER. Traditionally, the Tigers haven’t seemed to fare well against rookie call-up guy, and Lobstein has been struggling, so today could be tough.

I saw some chatter on here regarding the Tigers hitting in key situations. I want to make sure that we’re all on the same page here. The Tigers are one of the best offensive teams in the Majors. They have the Majors’ 2nd best OPS (.774) and 2nd best avg (.280). With RISP – the team OPS goes up to .812, 7th in the Majors. In R3L20 situations their OPS jumps to .873, which is only 12th in the Majors, but I’ll take .873 all day long. Look, baseball hitters are going to fail the VAST majority of the time. Even if we’re adding OBP + productive outs, there will still be very few guys who get the job done more than 1/2 the time. 95%+ of hitters are going to fail more than half of the time. This is simply the game. We can’t get worked up of we fail to score in every scoring situation. The boys are doing just fine.

Now what is curious is that the Tigers have the best OBP in the Majors (.346), the 2nd best OPS (see above), the third most ABs in the Majors, yet are 5th in runs. This doesn’t match-up with their overall team hitting prowess. The Tigers’ 190 runs scored this season is 36 behind the league leading Toronto Blue Jays. I would guess that if the Tigers had scored just 10 more runs they would have three more wins. (Now, this flies in the face of their Pythagorean X W-L which would suggest that they have been lucky, but I think it’s a sample size issue as I noted a few days ago). So why aren’t they driving in more runs? They really should be considering they are getting on base so frequently and hitting so well.

I think there is one direct cause – Victor Martinez, ,more specifically, where he bats in the lineup.  Here is the Tigers offensive rank by lineup position (using OPS)

1. 4
2. 7
3. 1
4. 27
5. 9
6. 6
7. 17
8. 13
9. 19

So, which one of the above is not like the others?

And of course, the 4th spot is maybe the worst to be so bad because of all the run scoring opportunities. The Tigers still have middle of the pack run production from the 4 hole (23 RBI – 15th in the Majors), but that just demonstrates how many opportunities there have been.

The indirect cause is Brad Ausmus – and his insistence on sticking with VMart for so long, but a young manager against an established vet, I get it. VMart is a professional hitter and he’s going to come back and hit. But his bat, or lack thereof, has cost this team several runs in 2015, and likely a few wins.

In other news…is anyone noticing what Prince Fielder is doing right now? Good for him.

Baseball Reference Game Preview here.

1. Anthony Gose, CF
2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
4. J.D. Martinez, RF
5. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
7. Tyler Collins, DH
8. James McCann, C
9. Jose Iglesias, SS

 

Game 2015.43: Astros at Tigers

Better late than never. Go Tigers.

Game 2015.42: Astros at Tigers

Nick Castellanos had his biggest hit of the season last night, a slicing line drive with the bases juiced in the 8th inning. Castellanos was credited with a triple and showed a ton of emotion standing on third, rightfully so. It was a huge moment for a team that sorely needed a big hit. (Let’s be clear, the RF took an awful angle, but it would have driven in at least 2 in any event).

So the Tigers avoid being swept, at home, by Milwaukee, and are rewarded with a 1:08 PM eastern start against the 13 games over .500 Houston Astros. Yes, 13. The Tigers are 7 over, which means they are 17-17 in their last 34 games. For all the great hitting and solid bullpen work, this team is not winning as many games as you would expect. Or is it…the expected win loss for this team is 22-19, which would suggest that the Tigers have been very lucky to date. Though that could easily even out over the course of the season. I’ll say it again, I think they are being mismanaged, and Ausmus has probably cost the team a game or two.

1. Gose, CF
2. Kinsler, 2B
3. Cabrera, 1B
4. Martinez J.D., DH
5. Cespedes, LF
6. Castellanos, 3B
7. Davis, RF
8. McCann, C
9. Romine, SS

Game 2015.41: Brewers at Tigers

Short and sweet for the win.

We’re not gonna get swept at home, by the Brewers, are we?

Baseball Reference game preview here.

1. Gose, CF
2. Kinsler, 2B
3. Cabrera, 1B
4. Martinez J.D., RF
5. Cespedes, LF
6. Collins, DH
7. Castellanos, 3B
8. McCann, C
9. Iglesias, SS