They’re coming home

It looked like a laugher, but then the jokes stopped getting funny, then the Miguel Cabrera had the last laugh. It’s games like this where I like to let Fangraphs tell the story.

Jeremy Bonderman looked great in the early going. He only needed 38 pitches to get through 4 innings. He pitched his way out of a rocky 5th with minimal damage, so it was quite the surprise to see him unable to finish the 6th and spare the bullpen.

And that bullpen which has been quite good and quite heavily used was vulnerable. Joel Zumaya finished off the 6th inning, but got knocked around for the first time this year. Phil Coke came on and got the first out before Vladimir Guerrero tied things up.

The offense scored early and late. Brandon Inge broke his home run drought in a big way. After sending a ball to the warning track he got angry and went homer-double-homer for a monster night. Ryan Raburn narrowly missed a grand slam and added another double.

But the biggest blast once again came from the biggest hitter. The Rangers inexplicably threw Miguel Cabrera a pitch over the plate in the 9th inning and he put it over the wall to give the Tigers a win that Jose Valverde saved easily.

A 5-6 road trip isn’t great, but it is certainly acceptable. And we get back to 7p start times, and the Minnesota Twins.

That’s using all your outs

The Tigers performance with runners in scoring position of late has caused much consternation and understandably so. Sometime the failures have just been failures, but during this recent stretch a significant portion was just bad luck. It’s only fitting then that Ramon Santiago plated the go-ahead run with an “excuse-me” flop shot to left.

Brian Fuentes and the Angels were 1 strike away from escaping the 9th inning with the game tied when Santiago reached down and somehow lifted the ball into shallow left field. A good jump and secondary lead by Gerald Laird let him reach home just before the tag.

Continue reading That’s using all your outs

A Discouraging Turn

The Tigers have taken two turns through the rotation. The first was largely encouraging. A Max Scherzer 1 run effort and reasons for hope from Dontrelle Willis and Jeremy Bonderman highlighted the pass with rough but acceptable outings from Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello. This second turn though…oh man.

Using the Baseball Musings Day by Day Database it is easy to see how the starters have fared over the last 5 games and it isn’t pretty. The 12 walks issued over the 5 starts is borderline acceptable. But outside of that it is a matter of picking which number is most troublesome. Is it the 42 hits or the run-an-inning pace or the fact that strikeouts are few and far between? Or do you go with the result of all the ineffectiveness which is a bunch of short outings?

Starting Rotation via Baseball Musings

This isn’t rocket science. The starters have to pitch better. All of them. With only 4 of the hits being homers, there is some hope that the BABIP will drop. But the teams that the Tigers have faced (Indians/Royals/Mariners) are far from offensive juggernauts making this all the more concerning.

The third pass through the rotation begins today with Justin Verlander. The Tigers are the only team to not have a starter record an out after the 6th inning. That needs to change and the sooner the better.

Is Bonderman Back?

Jeremy Bonderman returned to the mound, health for the first time since before the All Star Break in 2007 and the results can only be described as encouraging. He retired the first 11 hitters he faced before struggling in the 4th inning. But the best news is that the slider was darting straight down like Bonderman slider of doom that we all know and love.

The pitch f/x data is a little inconclusive at this time. It misclassified the splitter and I don’t know that I trust the 4 seam versus 2 seam fastball splits either. While he got up to 93mph on the fastball a few times, he was usually a few ticks below that. But for those that watched the game, the slider was just nasty.

My only concern is that Bonderman’s velocity seemed to peter out a little as the game wore on. The hope is that this is just a matter of him rebuilding stamina. The graph below is of all the pitches the Gameday classified as a fastball (two-seam and four-seam are included).

Bonderman's Fastball Velocity
That is just nitpicking an outing though where he only allowed 3 baserunners. Bonderman and Leyland were certainly pleased with the outing as well.

For one full turn through the rotation, Tigers starters have all pitched effectively. Granted, they haven’t face offensive juggernauts in the Royals and Indians, but there is reason for some optimism.

Other items from the game

  • I like this version of Magglio Ordonez. He’s driving balls to all fields and getting the results that go with it.
  • I like this version of Brandon Inge too. The one that is selective at the plate and is driving the ball to right center field with regularity.
  • Very nice defense today all around. Adam Everett made a couple nice plays at shortstop and Miguel Cabrera continues to dig everything in the dirt.
  • Ryan Perry got 4 outs and the save on 11 pitches. He looks like a different guy this year. The potential of last year is turning into results this year.
  • The Tigers drew over 35K for game number 2 and I’d expect a similar sized crowd today. It’s great to see a full park, not just on Opening Day

Robertson traded

Jeremy Bonderman and Dontrelle Willis have secured the final two spots in the Tigers rotation, and Nate Robertson secured a spot with the Marlins. The Tigers today traded Robertson and $9.6 million of his $10 million contract for Marlins left handed prospect Jay Voss. For my thoughts on the trade, well, just look back a couple days.

Robertson outpitched his two competitors not only this spring, but last year as well. The stats say that Robertson should be in the rotation. It has to be a tough pill for Robertson to swallow.*

Continue reading Robertson traded

Putting eggs in the Willis basket

The battle for the back end of the Tigers starting rotation has been the story of the spring for Detroit fans. The Tigers are counting on two of the Jeremy Bonderman – Nate Robertson – Dontrelle Willis trio to bill out the last 40% of the starters innings. Bonderman has pretty much had the 4th spot assured leaving Robertson and Willis battling for the 5th spot. But with Robertson outpitching Willis by most measures, it appears that Robertson is on the block and Willis has that  last spot. A dangerous proposition to say the least.

Continue reading Putting eggs in the Willis basket

Junkballing: Pitchers, Playoffs, Plunkings

Debating Saturday’s starter, some news on a tiebreaker playoff game, and more from MLB’s punishment roulette wheel.


Alfredo Figaro has been tabbed for the start in a very key game on Saturday. This is the product of a rainout on Monday and a very young starter who’s arm warrants careful protection.

Rick Porcello simply isn’t an option for this game. Nick Blackburn, also bumped by Monday’s postponement is going on 3 days rest. Quite frankly the Twins don’t have the same type of investment in Blackburn’s future that the Tigers do in Porcello’s. This isn’t a matter of saving Porcello for the rest of the season, it is a matter of not being foolish with an elite talent.

Now Rob Neyer has suggested that the Tigers would be better served by pitching Verlander on short rest on Saturday and giving Porcello the start on Sunday. This is much more palatable from a workload perspective. Verlander looks to be a freak in terms of  his ability to handle high pitch counts…so far. We’ll know more by how he responds next year. Continue reading Junkballing: Pitchers, Playoffs, Plunkings

Pitch f/x is encouraged by Bonderman

Jeremy Bonderman has had a very long road back from the surgery he underwent to correct thoracic compression outlet syndrome. There was hope he’d be back in the rotation this year, but his spring became very extended and he didn’t make his first appearance until June 8th – and he was crushed. It was back to the minors and more rest and rehab, but with the rosters expanded Bonderman is back as a reliever, and the pitch f/x data is promising…so far.

When Bonderman made his June start, his pitches didn’t behave in the way they had in the past. His velocity was down. His fastball didn’t have the same arm side run. His slider wasn’t as tight and was more of a sweeping pitch. The particulars (via Brooks Baseball) were:

Pitch Count Speed Horiz Move Vert Move
FF 48 89.59 -6.66 8.71
FT 5 89.16 -8.16 6.25
SL 22 82.44 1.32 3.25
CH 10 83.69 -7.13 8.32


Let’s fast forward to his latest 2 outings. The results have certainly been better, but what about the stuff?

Pitch Count Speed Horiz Move Vert Move
FF 23 91.60 -9.00 8.55
FT 3 91.03 -10.02 6.31
SL 10 84.13 -0.87 1.57


We see that his velocity is up about 2mph across the board. The fastball has a couple more inches of arm side run and the slider has an inch and a half more drop. This all seems to be good and much more in line with Bonderman’s past pitch f/x numbers.

I’m going to skip the 2008 numbers where he was clearly hurting and couldn’t maintain his velocity. This clouded pitch classification data greatly. Instead I’ll put the numbers from 2007 up. These were harvested from Fangraphs.

Pitch Count Speed Horiz Move Vert Move
FF   92.1 -8.6 7.7
FT   88 -10.7 9.8
SL   84.1 0.5 1.6
CH   84.2 -8 8.3


The pitches from September (granted there are only 36 of them) look much more like the pitches from 2007 than the pitches from the June start. And yes, small sample sirens should be going off. And this is far from an ideal analysis. I’m certain there are pitch classification issues that are especially prevalent between the two seam (FT) and four seam (FF) fastballs. Plus the system was relatively new in 2007 and still being calibrated. Still, the results from this cursory analysis are encouraging.

Tigers Minor League Wrap 8/28/09

Indianapolis 6 Toledo 7
Mike Hessman went 3 for 4 with 2 doubles. Scott Sizemore and Wil Rhymes each had 2 hits. Eddie Bonine allowed 5 runs on 10 hits in 5.2 innings. Jeremy Bonderman fanned 2 and allowed 2 hits in 1 inning.

Altoona 9 Erie 6
Santo De Leon had 2 doubles. Deik Scram walked twice and singled. Brennan Boesch homerd and walked. Ramon Garcia allowed 5 runs in 4.2 innings on 7 hits, 4 walks, and 3 K’s.

Lakeland 2 Dunedin 3
Jeramy Laster homered. Justin Henry tripled. Ryan Ketchner went 6 innings and he allowed 3 runs on 5 hits and a walk with 6 K’s. Austin Wood allowed 2 hits but no runs in 2 innings.

Fort Wayne 5 West Michigan 8
Gustavo Nunez needed a homer for the cycle. Ben Guez had 3 hits including 2 doubles and has pushed his season line to 278/323/487. Adam Wilk continues to pitch well with 5 K’s, no walks and just 1 run on 4 hits in 4.2 innings.

Oneonta PPD

GCL Pirates 0 GCL Tigers 3
James Robbins and Elvis Soto each had 3 hits including a homer for Soto. Edwin Gomez and Chao-Ting Tang each had 2 hits. Zach Samuels pitched 7 shut out innings with 4 K’s, 1 walk, and 6 hits.

Tigers Minor League Wrap & More 8/25/09

Louisville 3 Toledo 2
Wilkin Ramirez and Wil Rhymes each had 2 hits. Nate Robertson started and went 6.2 innings, he allowed 3 hits, no runs, 2 walks, and he fanned 9 – and it only took him 68 pitches to do it. Jeremy Bonderman didn’t fare as well allowing 2 runs on 2 hits and a walk in 1 inning.

Erie 5 Reading 8
Michael Bertram was a single short of the cycle. Casper Wells had 3 hits including 2 doubles. Jared Gayhart got another start and lasted 4 innings with 5 K’s, 2 walks, 4 hits, and 1 run.

Lakeland 4 Daytona 6
Devin Thomas and Jeramy Laster each had 2 doubles. Lauren Gagnier allowed 2 homers and 4 runs on 8 hits, 2 walks, and 5 K’s in 5 innings. Austin Wood pitched a scoreless inning with a strike out.

West Michigan 3 Lansing 4
Billy Nowlin homered for 1 of his 3 hits. Ben Guez and Luis Salas each had 2 hits, and Salas added 2 walks. Luke Putkonen fanned 8 in 6 shutout innings allowing 2 walks and 4 hits. Jade Todd was lit up for 4 runs in 2.1 innings.

Oneonta 1 Staten Island 4
Jamie Johnson doubled and walked. Alexis Espinoza doubled an singled. Mark Newman pitched 4 shutout innings with 4 hits, no walks and 2 K’s.

GCL Tigers 1 GCL Blue Jays 4
Brett Anderson went 2 for 4. Rayni Guichardo pitched 6 shutout innings and fanned 5 against 3 walks and 3 hits. Melvin Mercedes picked up his 15th save with a scoreless inning.

Minors Notes

The Tigers preliminary Arizona Fall League roster was announced. Robbie Weinhardt, Cody Satterwhite, Thad Weber, Ryan Strieby, Cale Iorg, and Scott Sizemore will represent the Tigers. Take 75 North breaks down the selections.

Also of note, Jeff Larish is done for the year as his wrist required surgery. Larish did pretty much nothing at the plate the latter part of the year and at least with an injury there is some explanation.

Tigers Minor League and Rehab Wrap 8/20/09

Toledo 10 Columbus 1
Nate Robertson went 5 innings and allowed 1 run on 5 hits with no walks and 4 K’s. Jeremy Bonderman didn’t allow a hit in 2 innings and he fanned 2 and walked none. Dusty Ryan went 3 for 5 with a homer. Don Kelly also had 3 hits and a homer. Wil Rhymes went 3 for 6.

Erie 2 Trenton 0
Brennan Boesch went 1 for 2 with 2 walks. Jared Gayhart fanned 6 and walked 1 in 5 innings of 1 hit ball. Cody Satterwhite fanned 3 and allowed 1 hit in his 3 innings.

Lakeland 3 Tampa 4
Max Leon went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles. Charlie Furbush allowed 3 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks with 5 K’s in 3 innings.

West Michigan 4 Dayton 5
Ben Guez went 3 for 4 with 2 doubles. Billy Nowlin had 3 hits including a homer. Luke Putkonen fanned 5 and walked none in 7.2 inning and all he surrendered was 1 unearned run on 2 hits. Tyler Stohr has been good this year, but didn’t have it last night as he allowed 4 runs in the 9th inning.

Williamsport 5 Oneonta 8
Camelo Jaime homered as part of a 3 for 4 day. Jaime Johnson singled twice and tripled. John Murian went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. Nate Newman allowed 3 runs on 3 hits and a walk in 2 innings.

GCL Braves 7 GCL Tigers 8
Alexander Nunez went 4 for 6 with a triple. James Robbins went 3 for 6 with a homer. Nolan Moody went the last 4 innings and allowed no runs on 2 hits, 1 walk and 5 K’s.

Tigers Minor League and Rehab Wrap 8/17/09

Columbus 4 Toledo 8
Mike Hessman 2 for 4 2B, HR. Jeff Fraizer 2 for 4, HR. Ruddy Lugo 6 IP, 3 R, 6 H, 3 BB, 3 K. Jeremy Bonderman 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K.

Erie DNP

Clearwater 5 Lakeland 1
Audy Ciriaco 2 for 4, SB. Justin Henry 2 for 4, 2 SB. Ryan Ketchner 6.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HR.

South Bend 3 West Michigan 8
Alden Carrithers 2 for 4, 3B. Ben Guez, 2 for 4, 2 2B. Avisail Garcia, 2 for 3, 2B. Adam Wilk 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 W, 2 K.

Oneonta DNP

GCL Tigers 2 GCL Pirates 3
Francisco Martinez 3 for 5, 2B, SB. Chao Ting Tang 2 for 5. Zach Samuels 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K.

Roster/Rehab Notes

Chris Lambert was DFA’d to make room for Jacob Turner’s contract. Lambert was at least solid for AAA despite his struggles. I’m a little surprised it wasn’t Mike Hollimon who has battled injuries and is too old to really be considered a prospect at this point.

In the same article it is noted that Dontrelle Willis was scratched from a rehab start due to a sore hip and his rehab is now on hold.