Game 2016.23: Tigers at Twinkies

Fulmer was good enough yesterday. Not great – he gave up a lot of hits, but pretty good considering it was his first ML start. I thought the load was appropriate and the pen was dominant again.

Zimmerman on the mound today.

#’s off of Tyler Duffey.

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (1-for-6)
  2. J.D. Martinez, RF (3-for-5, double, walk)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (2-for-5, walk)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (2-for-6, K)
  5. Justin Upton, LF
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (3-for-6, 2 doubles, K)
  7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
  8. Anthony Gose, CF (1-for-6, walk, 2 K’s)
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

Game 2016.22: Tigers at Twinkies

Since my last post the Tigers have completed the first “inning” of baseball, or initial 18 games (assuming my math is right this time…). They ended the top half of the first at 3 games over, and the bottom half at 3 games under, for an even 9-9. Not the start we were hoping for, but probably in line with most expectations. The White Sox are off to a sizzling start, but we’ve seen this before. It’s too early to worry about the standings.

So what did we see in the first inning?

1) Cabrera was a bit worrisome to some, but he’s been back to his old self this week, and there’s no reason for concern in my mind. He’ll hit his usual .320/.400/.560 with 30 HR and 120 RBI. Note that his OPS over the past week is 1.100+.

2) Despite a .231 BA, Saltalamacchia is murdering the baseball, leading the team with a .673 slugging. He’s not going to keep this up, but considering that he’s a backup, I’m thrilled. I love the idea of his lefty power coming off the bench late in games.

3) Verlander is a real concern. His average FB this year sits at 93.01 MPH, just a hair above the MLB average of 92.59. Let’s call it what it is, his days as a power pitcher are done. He has problems starting and finishing games, and his lack of command is going to lead to a lot of early exits. I still have hope that he can transition to a dominant finesse pitcher because he’s always had a plus plus curveball and has developed a legitimate change and slider; but the change is less effective with the loss of velocity on his fastball, and he regularly has problems locating his slider. He’s throwing his slider more than ever before (17.9% of the time), so keep an eye on how well he locates that pitch is moving forward.

4) Anibal Sanchez has had enough starts to put doubts in my mind about his place in the rotation. He hasn’t completed the 6th inning this year after doing so in 20/24 starts last year (excluding his last one where he got injured). His WHIP is nearly 2, and his GO/AO is an awful .68. Groundballs are good. Flyballs are bad; unless you’re a power pitcher. Sanchez is striking out a ton (9.89/9), but that is quickly offset by a 6.08/9 BB rate. Seriously, he’s a problem.

5) Fortunately, the bullpen (other than VerHagen and FRod), has been stellar. If we’re only gonna get 5 innings out of Verlander and Sanchez, we’re going to need the pen. The middle guys have been as advertised, and I think that FRod will progress to normal.

6) VMart looks healthy, we’ll need his bat to keep up with the runs our starters are giving up.

7) Casty had an amazing first inning at the plate, and he’s been better in the field. If he can be an average third baseman I’ll be thrilled.

8) Ausmus looks like he’s “still learning”, though let’s credit him with the recent JD 2-hole move (even though this is post “first inning”). Early returns are positive. I’m curious to see how long he leaves JD in that spot.

Anyway, the Tigers travel to Minnesota for three, and take on a Twins team that looks destined for the Central cellar. Here’s a fun fact. The Twins have only scored 77 runs in 22 games, or 3.5 per game. The Royals have only scored 77 runs (one less game), but the Royals are 5.5 games up on the Twins. That’s pitching right there.

A shocked Michael Fulmer gets the rock tonight in his first big league start. Fulmer is the Tigers’ top pitching prospect, but let’s consider the comparison pool.

Hopping on a plane this evening, someone please post the lineup later today. Baseball-Reference game preview here.

 

 

Game 2016.21: A’s at Tigers

I guess J.D. Martinez doesn’t mind batting 2nd.

In a bit of a surprise yesterday, the Tigers announced that they will call up right-handed prospect Michael Fulmer, and move Shane Greene to the DL with a middle finger issue (of the blister variety, not the Ty Collins variety). Fulmer came to Detroit in the Cespedes trade, and is rated the #1 prospect in the system. Fulmer will start against the Twins Friday night.

This afternoon the Tigers finish off the 4-game series with the A’s with Anibal Sanchez facing righty Chris Bassitt. Bassitt was roughed up for 6 runs in 5 innings his last start, and has a fat 1.48 WHIP for the season, so it may be a good opportunity for the Tiger bats to keep booming.

Today’s Lineup:

  1. Kinsler, 2B
  2. JD Martinez, LF
  3. Cabrera, 1B
  4. V Martinez, DH
  5. Upton, LF
  6. Castellanos, 3B
  7. Iglesias, SS
  8. Saltalamacchia, C
  9. Iglesias, SS
  10. Gose, CF

Game 2016.20: A’s at Tigers

After what looked like a breakout game, the Tigers last night struggled offensively again, as former-Wolverine Rich Hill baffled them with curve after slow curve. Cabrera and Victor Martinez seemed to adjust to it and hit some very hard shots in later at bats, but the rest of the time was left flailing or standing there like the house by the side of the road. The good news, as the Tiger announcers pointed out, is that there is nobody else they are going to face this season who throws so many curveballs.

Manager Brad Ausmus did decide to shake up the lineup a little, focusing on that #2 spot, where Justin Upton has been strikeout-prone.  JD Martinez says that he has never hit 2nd before, so this may feel a bit odd for him.

In other news, Francisco Rodriguez is back, and Finger Collins is back to Toledo

Today’s Lineup:

  1. Kinsler, 2B
  2. JD Martinez, LF
  3. Cabrera, 1B
  4. V Martinez, DH
  5. Upton, LF
  6. Castellanos, 3B
  7. Iglesias, SS
  8. Wilson, C
  9. Gose, CF
  10. Iglesias, SS

Upton and JD swap places; Saltalamacchia gets what is probably a well-needed rest in place of Bobby Wilson. (McCann is due back soon).

Verlander takes on Sonny Gray on the pitching side of things.

Game 2016.19: A’s at Tigers

More solid pitching from Jordan Zimmerman, and a bunch of runs, and the Tigers finally get back in the W column. The real story of the game though was Miguel Cabrera, who finally had a game where he looked like Miguel Cabrera, who went 4-for-4, went long twice, and earned himself the coveted game post photo spot.

Was it the day off that helped get him back on track? And why did Brad Ausmus give him Sunday off? Was it to “send a message?” Does that work? Was it rest? Was Cabrera fatigued? Was it merely a scheduled day off? Leyland used to do that all the time, put out Sunday lineups with multiple starters missing. At any rate, let’s hope the big bat keeps booming.

Of course all of the Tiger noise today on the airwaves was not about Miguel Cabrera; Tyler Collins got himself in the spotlight with a few choice words and an unmistakable gesture for the fans. Collins apologized, but I don’t think he has to worry too much about how the fans will react, since he has one foot in Toledo already, and the other will join as soon as Cameron Maybin finishes his rehab. He does get the night off tonight though, even against the lefty Rich Hill (University of Michigan). Maybe that’s sending a message (Collins would normally start against the lefty), maybe that’s to protect Collins from the wrath of the fans.

Today’s Lineup:

  1. Kinsler, 2B
  2. Upton, LF
  3. Cabrera, 1B
  4. V Martinez, DH
  5. JD Martinez, LF
  6. Castellanos, 3B
  7. Saltalamacchia, C
  8. Gose, CF
  9. Iglesias, SS

Game 2016.18: A’s at Tigers

 

It has only been 3 starts so far this season for newly-Tigerish Jordan Zimmerman, but what a 3 starts they have been. Zimmerman has won all 3 without allowing a single run, although his Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched (WHIP) is a solid but not spectacular 1.086, which means he has been pitching out of a few jams. Despite pitching shutouts he has yet to make it to an 8th inning (7, 6, 7), as the high pitch counts have caught up to him. So don’t expect him to keep throwing up zeros on the board, but the early returns on the Zimmerman acquisition are looking good.

The Oakland A’s may not be the team to break JZ’s scoreless streak, if their offensive stats are any indication. The Athletics are struggling near the bottom of the league with a lean .234 team batting average (DET is at .252) and a .665 OPS (DET is at .700). Their top hitter is Josh Reddick with a very ordinary .250/.822 line. In fact, their 3 top players in WAR are all pitchers, which is pretty unusual, but that is how they have managed a 10-9 record despite their hitting woes.

Today’s Slumpish Lineup:

  1. Kinsler, 2B
  2. Upton, LF
  3. Cabrera, 1B
  4. V Martinez, DH
  5. JD Martinez, LF
  6. Castellanos, 3B
  7. Saltalamacchia, C
  8. Collins, CF
  9. Iglesias, SS

The top of the lineup is back to the usual.

 

Comments on Comments

Well, since the Tigers are becoming increasingly more difficult to talk about, let’s have a discussion about discussions.

I don’t know how billfer (our founder) ever did this thing on his own. I have definitely gained a real appreciation of what he did. He was a groundbreaker, he did it all on his own, and now he is wandering lonely, bearded and bedraggled and broken, over the old Tiger Stadium grounds, with a cardboard sign—a scathing one, I might add—ripping the Curtis Granderson trade.

Kevin and I are doing are best to keep this thing going, but really the lifeblood of this beast is really the community of readers and commentators that have stuck with it, along with those that are just discovering it. I really do believe there is still room out there for a well-run, well-lit place in between the corporate mega-blogs and the solo monoblogs.

This is in response, of course, to a comment here which ruffled the feathers and muddied the waters and somethinged the somethings. It addressed some things which probably needed to be addressed. I do wish it didn’t have the feel of a one-and-done criticism; I hope he stays around a bit (I know he’s been a reader in the past). I think we need to add some more views to the mix to keep this interesting. If he can bring back Vince from Minnesota, all the better. (Vince? are you out there?).

I think the biggest issue is that in the game day comments, people, to put it bluntly, bitch about stuff. I know I do. I try to be somewhat measured in my posts (Kevin probably does that better), but in my comments…sometimes not so much. But at the same time, when you go to a game, don’t you react and respond in a way that is very different than what you would do the day after? People react; live sports is reactive stuff. I try to take the game comments in that spirit. Just because you yell “you *#+$*!” at someone in your disappointment doesn’t mean you don’t treasure your signed baseball card of him, and play him in your fantasy league.  Personally, when I get frustrated, I just try to say funny stuff. I’m not sure if anyone here was around then, but Rear Admiral Julius von Thursday…yeah, that was me.

Anyway, I’ll throw out a few things off the top of my head here, in no particular order:

1. The Tigers grossly underperformed last season, and it looks like they are going to do it again. I said it looks like—it’s too early to say that. Still, that makes watching games beyond frustrating sometimes.

2. The number of commenters is smaller, so occasionally (and I’ve felt this from the reading side and the commenting side) it seems like you are talking to yourself a bit. And I think that encourages a bit of a different tone in the comments.

3. In the past, the blog has had Game Posts, and Other Posts (which is not an official category). The Game Post comments were full of dumb insulting nicknames, negative comments, the whole bit. But the same people would be more measured when discussing the same issues in a non-Game Post. I will try posting on off days to see how that works, if I can manage it.

4. One good thing about this blog has been a very…collegial? feel. We all respect each other’s opinion here, even if…well, really, what is wrong with them! We can disagree without being personal. And people do feel comfortable sometimes sharing personal things here, and that is something to be respected.

5. Most of us still commenting here have been here a while. But we will end up talking to ourselves if we don’t respect and encourage other people who comment here who aren’t regulars, whether they are new readers or just infrequent commenters. I’ve seen that happen other places. It’s like having a team of old players who…oh wait, I don’t want to think about that.

6. Maybe we need a way to direct comments and suggestions to Kevin and I here? I have been told there are things one might want to tell us, that one doesn’t want to post as a public comment. Makes sense.

7. It’s really easy to throw the manager under the plane (they don’t take busses these days). And it’s very inconsistent too: Joe Maddon lets the players wear whatever they want and does goofy things. Genius! Another manager lets his players wear Zubaz and he’s a damn idiot! It’s an interesting discussion, but I don’t know how to have it. Maybe making bad puns on the managers name is unhelpful, but then again, maybe he is a bad manager who deserves some punning. I just don’t know.

8. There is no number 8.

9. Kevin may have a more concise and better response, which even may be no response. But does he have a 20-game hitting streak in Beat the Streak? No, he does not.

Lastly, when I initially read last night’s comments, for some weird reason, I latched onto the comment about people commenting in all caps, and wrote this long thing which somehow covered Homer and included the word “orthography.” You know Homer never “wrote” the Iliad and Odyssey; he compiled them at most. In all caps. With no spaces or punctuation. Will this post better that comment? The bar is low, as the Dead Sea bartender said.

Game 2015.17: Indians at Tigers

The Indians beat the Tigers with great pitching on Friday, and pounded us with great hitting yesterday. I wonder what’s in store for today.

The Tigers have been pretty bad over their last 7 games, no need to recap that here. Let’s just get a winning streak started. I do miss the old Leyland rants after games like this. I can’t help but think that Ausmus just walked into the locker room, looked down at his shoes and said, “aww shucks, let’s just try to win tomorrow.”

Baseball-Reference game preview here.

Both Upton and Cabrera are sitting today. I hate both of those moves.

1. 2B Kinsler

2. SS Iglesias

3. DH Martinez

4. RF Martinez

5. 3B Castellanos

6. C Saltalamacchia

7. LF Aviles

8. 1B Romine

9. CF Gose

Game 2016.16: Indians at Tigers

This thing where JV gets better as the game goes along makes me question his pre-game routine. But he was good. Hat tip to Tomlin. He was better.

It’s just one loss guys, it’s still early. We’ll get ’em today.

Got to head out, someone please post the lineup.

 

Game 2016.15: Indians at Tigers

Come on Verlander. Seriously.

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B

2. Justin Upton, LF

3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B

4. Victor Martinez, DH

5. J.D.Martinez, RF

6. Nick Castellanos, 3B

7. Tyler Collins, CF

8. Bobby Wilson, C

9. Jose Iglesias, SS

Game 2016.14: Tigers at Royals

It’s the 9th inning, 3 run lead, time to bring in the closer. After 1 quick out, there is a single, then a home run. The fans have seen this before this season, is this another late-inning collapse? Luckily, the team still manages to sqeak out a 1-run lead.

No, this is not the Tigers and Francisco Rodriguez, it’s the Reds and closer JJ Hoover. The difference between the Tigers and the Reds though is that the Reds are used to having a Closer, the lights-out Aroldis Chapman. The Tigers are used to…well, Soria, Nathan, Benoit, Valverde, Rodney, Jones, etc. They seem to have a knack for signing very good closers exactly one year past their prime (except for Valverde, from whom they got one very good year). So, Reds manager Bryan Price had seen enough, and Hoover is out as the closer. Rodriguez will be the Detroit closer until…when? Until he retires from baseball? Last night was about the 3rd time he has had absolutely nothing out there, not even the strike zone. Two home runs and two walks in the 9th inning? Even Papa Grande is shaking his head.

Not to take away from what Jordan Zimmerman did. He is now sitting on a cool 3-0, 0.00 stat line, and quietly thumbing his nose at the Nationals.

The Tigers are national again, on FS1. If this one goes bad, the Red Wings are on. Fox Sports Detroit.

Today’s When Doves Cry Lineup:

  1. Kinsler, 2B
  2. Upton, LF
  3. Cabrera, 1B
  4. V Martinez, DH
  5. JD Martinez, LF
  6. Castellanos, 3B
  7. Saltalamacchia, C
  8. Collins, CF
  9. Iglesias, SS

Collins gets a start in center, because, why not? Oh, because Gose is 5-for-11 off of Volquez. But hey, it was a scheduled day off and whatnot. Watch out for Upton, who is 8-for-17 against Volquez.

Game 2016.13: Tigers at Royals

To say that there were problems with runners in scoring position last night would be an understatement, but the good news is: lots of runners in scoring position. You couldn’t ask for much more than to twice have Miguel Cabrera step in with the bases loaded and less than two outs, and couldn’t have been more surprised that he struck out both times, the 2nd on 5 consecutive change up pitches (!). A .255 BA / .735 OPS is decent enough for most baseball mortals, but for Cabrera it definitely qualifies as a cold start. As far as WAR goes—which in the best of times is a statistic that triggers arguments, but at this time of the season is more of a curiosity—Cabrera is coming in with a lean 0.2, tied for 8th best on the team with Kyle Ryan.

One odd thing I noticed looking at how Cabrera has done in the past with a runner on 3rd and less than 2 out, with everything else he has done, he has never exactly been a sacrifice fly machine; last season he only had 2. The Tiger leaders were Victor Martinez with 7, Castellanos with 6, and Kinsler with 5.

Tonight they try again, with Jordan Zimmerman  (2-0, 0.00) taking on Ian Kennedy, who has a WHIP of only 0.73 after 2 starts. Runs may be at a premium tonight.

Today’s Lineup:

  1. Kinsler, 2B
  2. Upton, LF
  3. Cabrera, 1B
  4. V Martinez, DH
  5. JD Martinez, LF
  6. Castellanos, 3B
  7. Saltalamacchia, C
  8. Gose, CF
  9. Iglesias, SS

About that lineup…

So far this season Justin Upton’s strikeout rate has been high enough to make Brandon Inge look like a contact hitter, which is not exactly helpful in the #2 spot, is it? Is it worth trying Kinsler/Iglesias at the 1/2 spots (in either order)? Iglesias is 2nd on the team with a .400 On Base Percentage, and has a history of putting the ball in play, along with better than average speed. That sounds like a top of the order guy.