Junkballing: Injuries and Verlander’s Workload

A journey through some links that will update us on the Tigers walking wounded, that will put limits on Justin Verlander’s workload, and other odds and ends including bullpen usage and Alex Avila.

Injuries

Word out of Lakeland is that Zach Miner is preparing to enter pseudo game action as part of his rehab assignment. Even with no set backs that would likely but him a couple weeks away from being ready to join the Tigers. And while the bullpen has been overworked and a fresh arm would be helpful, the bullpen has also been pretty effective.

Adam Everett is expected to be back any day now after taking batting practice yesterday. That could prove timely as Jim Leyland is still concerned about Scott Sizemore’s ankle and if he wants to spell him at second, he would have Ramon Santiago as an option with a healthy Everett manning short.

For those that were hoping to get a look at Brent Dlugach, he has cooled off at Toledo as his BABIP hasn’t been able to sustain his strikeout rate (31 K’s in 86 PA’s).

On the minor league injury front the Tigers are hopeful that Jacob Turner’s soreness is an adjustment to a pro pitching schedule and nothing ominous.

Verlander’s workload

With Justin Verlander throwing over 120 pitches in each of his last two starts and not seeing the sixth inning in either, it turned out to be a clubhouse topic yesterday. Leyland says he is going to put a limit on Verlander in his next start regardless of the inning. Verlander acknowledges that he needs to be more efficient but says pitch counts are overrated.

Verlander's Pitch Counts by Game 2009

We’ll see what happens with this limit. I’m sure that Leyland doesn’t want Verlander getting hurt on his watch, but he also had him throw over 120 pitches in 6 of his last 8 outings last season. Verlander has always proven up to the task, I just doubt that Leyland is going to reign him in too much.

The rest

The one about the bullpen last night

Gut wrenching losses are good fodder for second guessing (and page views). My thoughts and perspective on what happened last night (some of these may sound like a defense of decisions made or not made, that’s not necessarily the intent).

1. Why take out Edwin Jackson, he was pitching awesome? Edwin Jackson had been pitching awesome, until he lost his control. For those that hate pitch counts as a reason to pull a pitcher, you should love this decision. Clearly the 89 pitches weren’t the issue. It was the fact that after peppering the strike zone all night he started falling behind hitters.

2. Why only one batter for Bobby Seay? Leyland was playing platoon advantages. Look at the righties coming up after Snider. There wasn’t a lefty in sight. Seay did his job.

3. Why not Ryan Perry then? The popular belief is that this was too much of a pressure situation for a debut. I don’t believe it, and I don’t think Leyland does either. When Zumaya debuted it was in a hold situation. He’s not afraid of that at all. And really, if Perry comes in a blows it then how many question why he was brought into a pressure situation to debut? A ton. Most questioned when Rodney and Zumaya were brought into pressure situations when first returning last year, and they’d faced those situations before. No. The real reason was because at the moment Leyland views Lyon as his second best reliever behind Fernando Rodney.

4. Why use your second best reliever in such a high leverage situation? This is the better question, and one that stat heads have been hammering on managers for for years. But if it’s not the 9th you can’t use your closer for some reason.

5. Why leave Lyon out there in the 9th? I’ve got nothing. This was stupid. Even if you let him start the inning, when he continues to struggle why not go get him. Ridiculous.

The Newest Tiger is Brandon Lyon

The Tigers will formally announce the signing of Brandon Lyon on Saturday. Terms are not immediately available but it is likely a one or two year contract. Lyon isn’t necessarily being handed the closers position, but he will definitely have a shot to claim it.

UPDATE 2:49 The deal is one year and $4.25 million with another half million in incentives. Eddie Bonine was DFA’d to make room on the 40 man roster

Lyon served as the Diamondbacks closer for the first half of 2008 before losing the job. The ERA and WHIP weren’t impressive last year, but there are a couple of quirks at play. First was a very high .355 BABIP. The second, and likely the reason for the first, is he was tremendously unlucky on ground balls. Last year 13.4% of the ground balls he allowed resulted in infield hits. To provide some context, Ichiro Suzuki has a career 12.2% mark. Suffice it to say that it was abnormally high and likely to correct itself.

The high BABIP resulted in an ERA a nearly a run higher than his FIP.

Detroit Tiger Tales also points out his clean outing rate. Even in 2008, it was higher than every current Tiger reliever other than Clay Rapada and it compares favorably to Trevor Hoffman, Takashi Saito, and Juan Cruz.

I don’t know that Brandon Lyon is the savior at closer, but the signing demonstrably improves the bullpen provided his second half struggles in 2008 were not the result of some sort of injury that could carry over to 2009.

Detroit Tigers Weblog Live – 1.22.09

It’s the return of DTW live. Tune in at 9:30 ET tonight and will talk Tigers as they embark on their caravan. Topics include: well the bullpen of course, Verlander’s extension, the demise of WDFN and whatever else comes up. Hope to see you back here at 9:30.

We ended up covering quite a bit in this extended (44 minutes) edition. Once we get back to a regular posting schedule I’d like to keep these a little shorter.

Links from today’s show:

Tigers sign Rincon

The Tiger announced the signing of Juan Rincon to a minor league deal today. Rincon will get an invite to spring training and will be given a chance to make the Tigers bullpen.

This looks to be a decent signing. Rincon was a stud in 2004 through 2006. But he was busted for steroid use. In 2007 and 2008 he saw his home run rate balloon. In 04 throuh 06 he allowed 9 homers total. He allowed 9 in 2007 and 8 in 2008.

Still, it’s a low risk move and the type of signing I’d hope the team would make several of as they try and build their pen on the cheap.

Juan Rincon » Statistics » Pitching | FanGraphs Baseball

Like sands through the hourglass

I think it’s clear that the Tigers bullpen situation will be an on going saga. It’s been the lead story leading up to Tigerfest and will likely hold that distinction throughout spring training (unless of course someone gets injured in the World Baseball Classic). Without an established and healthy closer available, anyone that is brought in to help the pen wouldn’t be a lock to close games anyways.
Continue reading Like sands through the hourglass

Daily Linking – 8/26

Links of note, or stuff I find interesting, or stuff I think you might find interesting