Thursday, April 09, 2009

Tigers Lose Opening Series

The Tigers have opened the season by losing a series to the Blue Jays three games to one. That is better than last year when they started off 0-7 but still not a great start. It's nearly impossible to draw any solid conclusions from a four game series but here are my thoughts:

Other than the opening night when Justin Verlander got shelled, the starting pitching was pretty good. Edwin Jackson was excellent and showed much better control than he usually does. Zach Miner recovered nicely from a rough first and pitched a solid 5 2/3 innings. Rick Porcello gave up a couple of homers but also had some good moments while giving up three runs in five innings. There is some concern that Verlander's bad start is an indicator that he is going down the same road as last year. It's just one game though so I'm not going to read too much into it.

The bullpen has been awful as expected. The only time it wasn't bad was Wednesday when they got their one victory. Bobby Seay, Ryan Perry and Fernando Rodney combined to pitch 3 1/3 perfect innings in that game which was encouraging. Brandon Lyon and Juan Rincon looked very bad. Nate Robertson was a mixed bag. Joel Zumaya is supposedly getting close to being ready for a minor league rehab but we all know there could be a set back at any moment. The bullpen is a problem but we knew that coming in.

The plan this year was to strengthen the defense at the expense of the offense. It didn't work out in this series as the infield defense was surprisingly shaky. Some of it may have been the turf in Toronto but I'm not sure what the turf has to with dropped balls. Adam Everett in particular had a rough series. Again , it's too early for concern but he needs to make plays because he can't hit a lick.

Offensively, three players did most of the hitting. Miguel Cabrera was 8 for 13 with two homers and three walks, Curtis Granderson went 5 for 16 with two homers and Brandon Inge belted three round trippers. The top five should do a lot of hitting this year. The bottom of the line-up is weak but if Inge can continue hitting for power as he has all spring that would be a big boost.

Now, they head home for a three game series versus the Rangers. Hopefully the Tigers bats can feast on the weak Rangers pitching. Of more interest will be the pitching though. It will be Armando Galarraga, Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson, supposedly their three best pitchers at the moment. I will also keep an eye on the bullpen to see how that take shape as well. That will likely be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, keys all year long.

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