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.



22 thoughts on “Game 2016.22: Tigers at Twinkies”

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

    Iglesias and Saltalamacchia both get the day off. Cabrera has hit Hughes for .462 over his career. Is he a bit of a lock to get a hit? I’m biting my nails on that one.

  2. Iggy and Salty another day off? 22 games into the season, must be really hard. Surprised Casty is playing after having a great game yesterday.

  3. Great info Kevin. i share Kevin’s concerns about JV, Sanchez… and you could also add Pelfrey and Greene to that list … that’s 4 out of 5 starters…which is not a good mix w/ an offense that’s been held to 3 runs or less in 14 of the 21 games (and been shutout 3X).

    JV finished stronger last year, and he’s a competitor (w/a lot of pride)…so there’s hope w/him. Sanchez, i don’t share the same optimism re: him. As Kevin pointed out he walks 6 per 9 IN, and he gives up (avg) 1 HR per game… so a lot of BB’s + HRs = not a good combo. Last year he gave up 29 HR’s in 24 starts. Pelfrey & Greene have the potential to be respectable 4 & 5 starters, but have not been so far. I’m hoping Norris and Fulmer are/become very productive to cover for two current starters that either breakdown (Sanchez?) or get bull-penned (Greene?).

    1. Before I add my comments, I would like to nominate StorminNorman$ as the swami of the group. At the beginning of April he predicted a 14-12 record for the Tigers. (He had included two preseason games in his numbers.) One regular season game was postponed and to me it looks like they will end the month either 12-11 or 13-10. (We can’t possibly lose 2 to the Twins.) Way to go, Norman!

      Your analysis of our pitching is also very good. I think JV will be acceptable just on pride and cojones, Sanchez is the wild card. The good news that if some of the youngsters can complete 5 or 6 decent innings, our new ball pen can keep us competitive.

      1. Good write up Kevin. Let me add that Everyday Ian quietly goes about his job serving as the Tiger offensive and defensive spark plug.

        Does anyone have any news on Daniel Norris?

      2. thanks Tony… i’ll take a 13-10 April

        DET’s May is also challenging, 9 games on the road at WAS (including a Scherzer v Zimmerman matchup), BAL & CLE…then end the month with 6 games out west OAK & LAA

        i could see them going 14-14 or 18-10 or 10-18…anybody’s guess…it all starts with quality starting pitching

  4. Starting pitching has definitely been the weakest part of this years team so far. A couple of days ago I was looking at the ERA stats, when the team ERA was just under 4. The only starting pitcher with an ERA below this was Zimmerman and the only relief pitchers above 4 were VerHagen and F-Rod.

  5. The other part of the starting pitching problem is if the Tigers pen goes 7-8-9 they will be fine, and an occassional 6-7-8-9 they will be fine. If they have to fill 5-9 and 6-9 a lot not even KC can do that…

  6. Mariners got exactly one hit!!…a dinger to beat the Indians.1-0..King Felix doesn’t need much usually!

    1. And the Brewers were no-hit for 8+ innings, and managed to get the winning run to the plate. And fell short with Ryan #$*!% Braun on deck, who needed a hit for…something.

      1. The young man (he’s 25) who no hit the Brew Crew for 7 and 2/3 is a local , born in the Tri- Cities and lived for a time in Spokane. He attended Washington State, and pitched very well there. I met him in Tacoma when he was down with New Orleans last season. He is a very guarded individual, and he was not willing to engage in conversation. I talked to one of his former college coaches, who said he lets his pitching do his talking for him. Spoke well last night, and wise move by Donny ball game to take him out when he did

        1. Thanks for the local color. It was a wise move, but I wonder how he felt win the Brewers managed to get the winning run to the plate in the 9th. The game ended with Braun on deck…I lost my Beat the Streak streak on him. That’s baseball!


    interesting…though i don’t think Castellanos would (or did) make a good OF either… he’s tall, so possibly 1st base – but that would only work if Cabrera could DH, and that’s not going to happen w/VMart… Cabrera would be a wash (about same as Castellanos) at 3B

    barring any trade (of Castellanos, VMart or ??), DET is likely stuck w/Castellanos at 3rd – but if he keeps hitting the way he’s started this season, he will likely produce more runs than he costs the team…and he’ll continue to be pulled in the 9th inning for defensive purposes. I’ve always wondered what he thinks about that.

  8. We finally have Casty producing at the plate and we can’t leave it alone. He looks like a much more disciplined hitter this year. If he can bat .270 with some power we should leave him alone. Now that he is going well, we do not need to get into his head by trying him in the out field. If we do, we will end up with a bad outfielder who bats 240. As far as Victor, I can not imagine anyone picking up his contract at his age and for who? Casty may not be Brooks at third, but even that is softened by the range Iggy has. If you are worried about the outfield you must be talking about Gose and Maybin who hasn’t played yet. That is just one piece of nine. The real problem now appears to be starting pitching and I don’t see any easy way out of that. The kids in the minors show real promise, but they should not be rushed. Now that the pen looks solid, we have a lot of better options.

  9. w/the 2 HR’s in today’s game, DET have hit 29 HR’s this year, and DET pitching has given up 19

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