Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011 Season is underway. 1-down, 161 to go.



Coming into the season the Detroit Tigers said that one of the keys to the season was Justin Verlander having a good April. Technically today is still March, but the fact remains the same, in season action for his career, Justin Verlander has a 7-11 5.06 ERA in games during the months of March/April.

Verlander said all spring that he wanted to start the year strong. His record in the month of May stands at18-8, with a 2.75 ERA, so while what is considered the 2nd month of the season is Verlander’s best month; his season start pitching in March/April is his worst pitching month.

Verlander has said he was going to try and get off to a better start. Um, sure thing Justin.

Next!

The Tigers lost game one of the season, to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, 6-3. The good news is that Verlander didn’t take the loss- that went to Phil Coke, pitching out of the bullpen to start the season. The bad news for Detroit is that Verlander still struggled, despite striking out 8 Yankees in the outing, and was pulled at the end of the 6th inning, because he had thrown 114 pitches. Today’s game was the 62nd time in 166 career starts Verlander has thrown over 114 pitches.

I understand that the Yankees take a lot of pitches, and that Verlander has the tendency “go for the K” instead of pitching to contact and allowing his fielders to make the play. That being said, Manager Jim Leyland and Pitching Coach Rick Knapp, can’t continue to allow Verlander to throw that many pitches early in a game, let alone in the season.

Coke gave up a home run to former Tiger Curtis Granderson in the 7th inning, and that was soon followed up Derek Jeter driving in Russell Martin, on a Sacrifice Fly. The Yankees later added an insurance run in the 8th inning. Coke was in the game for 2 reasons:
1) Curtis Granderson was the lead off batter in the 7th and part of the reason the Tigers shipped him off to New York back in December 2009 was that the team felt that Granderson was weak against left-handed pitching, and that fact was just going to get worse.
2) Phil Coke is starting the season as Detroit’s 5th starter, and won’t be needed to start a game for the Tigers until later on this month, so- in order to get him some work, he is pitching in relief.

So today’s Tigers game ended the way many others have, with Mariano Rivera recording his 560th career save in a New York Yankees win.

The star of the game had to be former Tiger Curtis Granderson who went 1-3 at the plate with the tie-breaking homer off Coke, as well as 2 outstanding plays in the field in the Yankee victory.

The Tigers have the day off tomorrow, and the series returns on Saturday from Yankee Stadium with Brad Penny taking the mound for the Tigers against A.J. Burnett for New York.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wow, where DID the time go??




Wow, sometimes life can certainly get in the way and keep someone from accomplishing things that need to be done, like working on Tiger Tizzy.

That being said, the season is 4 days away, and as spring training games come to a close, the Detroit Tigers could only manage 3 field goals as they lost to the Baltimore Orioles by a 14-9 score this afternoon in Sarasota, Florida.

The good news for Detroit is that the recently named starter at 2B, Will Rhymes went 3 for 3, with a run scored as he raised his spring training batting average to .328, to go along with a .377 OBP for the spring.

While I certainly don’t expect Rhymes to keep up that kind of production during the course of the regular season, it certainly bodes will for the first month of the season, and who knows, Rhymes could end up being a “sleeper” for the Tigers this year. So much for my speculation earlier in spring training that Sizemore would win the job.

The bad news for the Tigers is that Max Scherzer got pounded allowing 12 runs, 11 earned in his final start before the regular season. Hopefully this was just a one-time thing for the young right-hander. It’s hard to be terribly optimistic about a pitcher that ends spring training with an ERA that is 10.38 however.

Every time I start discussing spring training stats, I am reminded of Midre Cummings, however.

For those of you who do not know the name, well there’s a reason for it. Cummings ended up playing 11 seasons in the Majors, but from 1993-1997, he was in just about EVERY Pittsburgh Pirates spring training highlight shown on SportsCenter. And just like clockwork, by the time July rolled around Cummings was buried deep on the Pirates bench or back in the minors.

Yet, for 4 seasons, the man was just KILLING it in spring training. There is no way of tracking it but it just seemed like every spring training at bat ended up with Cummings striking out in glorious fashion, or hitting a bomb, that might be landing in Cuba just about now. I mean those baseballs he hit out of the park had some SERIOUS hang-time. For the record, Cummings ended his 11 year MLB career with a .257 career batting average, and 22 career homers.

I wish I could find out, but I bet he had close to 22 career spring training home runs in far fewer than his 1,113 regular season AB’s.

There, so I guess that was a really LONG winded way of saying I’m not expecting a .328 batting average for the season for Will Rhymes, or a 10.38 ERA for Max Scherzer.

Just call them spring training fluke events.

Oh, and by the way, welcome back to Tiger Tizzy, and I'm glad you stuck around.