Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tigers Finally Win

There were a lot of reasons why the Tigers lost five games in a row to the Royals and Blue Jays this week. You could point to starters not pitching deep into games, sloppy defense, and too many strikeouts and double plays with men on base. The common thread in all five games though was failure of the bullpen. In 14 1/3 innings over five games, the Tigers relievers posted a 11.30 ERA and every reliever played a role in the disaster. If you want to see the gory details, Billfer has them had DTW.

Today, Rick Porcello left the game with a 4-2 lead after six innings and it was once again up to the bullpen to hold it. This time, the bullpen came through as Zach Miner, Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney each pitched a perfect inning. Hopefully, this is a sign that this week's bullpen implosion was only a blip and that things will fall in place going forward.

Rick Porcello also pitched well today allowing two runs on four hits and two walks in six innings. In nine starts since the beginning of August, the 20 year old right-hander has a 3.40 ERA. After struggling with his command at times earlier in the year he has walked just 11 batters and given up four homers in his last 50 1/3 innings.

Curtis Granderson batted seventh against a left-hander for the second time this series. He went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and his batting average for the season dropped to .249 overall. He now has a .486 OPS versus left-handers and a .908 mark versus right-handers which I'm pretty sure is the biggest platoon split among regulars in the majors. His inabilty to hit lefties has become a major problem seems to be getting worse rather than better.

The seemingly obvious solution to the Granderson dilemma would be platoon him but there is no obvious platoon partner. Offensively it would be Raburn but an outfield of Raburn, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen is a disater defensively and not something I want to see on a regular basis. Defense has been an important part of the team's success this season and they can't afford to have three relatively weak outfielders with fly ball pitchers like Jarrod Washburn and Justin Verlander on the mound. I do think they need keep batting him low in the order against lefties. I'd also like to see them pinch hit for him more late in the game.

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