Sunday, April 06, 2014

One Week In The Books

 

The Tigers are off to a strong start but Phil Coke and the bullpen has some fans worried.
(Photo Credit: John T. Greilick, Detroit News)
 
After one week of play, the Tigers are 4-1 giving them the best record in the American League.  They could very easily be 1-4 as there have been three one-run victories including two walk-offs in the first two games.  Those three wins can't be taken away though and they count just as much in the standings as they would in September.  Some observations on how they got where they are and where they could be going follow.

The Tigers starters have posted a 2.20 RA (using runs rather than earned runs) and have allowed no homers and just 20 hits in 32 2/3 innings.  Surprisingly, they have just 18 strikeouts which makes one wonder if they are holding something back.  At any rate, it's not a concern.  The strikeouts will come. 

The bullpen, on the other hand, has been a mess with a 6.08 RA in 13 1/3 innings.  Phil Coke and Joba Chamberlain have looked especially awful and may not stay on the roster through May at this rate.  The biggest disappointment so far though has been closer Joe Nathan who has not been sharp at all.  He was the only supposedly reliable reliever entering the season, so seeing him struggle early is a bit concerning, although not too alarming yet.  On the bright side, journeyman Evan Reed is looking as if he could be an important piece of the bullpen puzzle. 

Don't blame the bullpen struggles on the  Bruce Rondon injury.  That was a tough loss but he was far from a guarantee to lock down the setup role - not with less than 30 MLB innings and a season-ending injury (I'm talking about the 2013 season here) under his belt.  The bullpen was very questionable even before than injury.  During the off-season, they lost Joaquin Benoit,  Drew Smyly and Jose Veras from an already shaky pen and added just Nathan.  That's the one area I really wish they had addressed further during the winter.

The shortstop situation is about as unsettled as the bullpen.  Alex Gonzalez is showing that he has something left with the bat, but his defense has been awful so far.  Not only does he have limited range, but he also appears to be unsteady with poor judgement.  I don't think he'll last more than a few weeks.  Andrew Romine will last longer, but he's not a full-time player.

Other than the starting staff, the other thing that has carried the team so far is the offense.  They are fourth in the league with 4.8 runs scored per game.  Moreover, they lead the AL with an .825 OPS.  Rookie third baseman Nick Castellanos and center Austin Jackson have looked particularly promising thus far and could exceed expectations.

So, it's been a mixed bag so far, but they have four wins in the bank already and that's important.

16 comments:

  1. Well we are still a heavy favorite to win the division, so being off to a 4-1 start despite a few concern areas is still better than they were looking before the season started. And the only loss did have that really bad strike call against Tyler Collins, maybe things would have been different if that call was made correctly.

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  2. Thanks for the recap, Lee. I'm surprised that Porcello's fine outing isn't getting a little more run, not just here but anywhere. Porcello is a key in terms of replacing Fister in the rotation as #4, and if his first start is an accurate precursor to his season, we won't miss Fister at all. The only thing I'd like more of out of Rick would be about 5 more outs, just to avoid as much as possible having to go to the bullpen. Any idea why Putkonen hasn't been used yet, other than that the 'long relief' role hasn't been needed yet? I'd think that they'd like to have him get some work in.

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  3. Reed has looked good. Alburquerque has as well; I thought he just had some tough luck yesterday; some good pitches got tagged, which happens. I think Putkonen will be decent. Assuming Nathan gets it together, I'm not ready to panic yet.

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    1. I still think we have one of the easier divisions to win so all we need to do is win our grouping which shouldn't be too difficult and then we have our shot in the postseason, and perhaps a slightly different roster. Just coast through the next 157 games and aim to win the division by 10 games and worry about this stuff in the postseason! There's just no pressure until the last week of the season if we falter enough to let some team make things close.

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  4. Tom, my previous post was actually all about Porcello and I agree it was an encouraging start.

    I also agree with those who said there is no need to panic. They are still the heavy favorites in the AL Central. I still want to add some pieces during the season though and they will.

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    1. Lee, thanks for the heads-up. I completely missed your Porcello post! Nice job; exactly what I was looking for!

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  5. Plus Avila and his .083 BA (same SLG) can only get better, so not bad to be 4-1 knowing that there should be a lot more coming from him.

    And let's hope Don Kelly doesn't maintain his .750 BA all season. It wouldn't necessarily hold up through the playoffs but could be enough to top that tiny little Cabrera contract!

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  6. And maybe Phil Coke would do better if he didn't have that necklace flying up to smack him in the mouth in the middle of his pitch as the photo nicely captures, what a great shot! Any chance we can see the full pitch in super slow motion?

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    1. I think that necklace may be what is throwing his aim off.

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    2. I was already sold anyhow on wanting to see necklaces taken off on account of looking silly, plus it makes me wonder what these players are thinking in their minds that they would want to wear a cumbersome necklace while playing professional sports. I don't see the upside and only see things to be concerned about and to me it's embarrassing for the player to be caught wearing one. It makes them look unprofessional and like they don't take the job seriously.

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    3. I agree, but the flashy jewelry has been the norm for years. It used to be 14 carat gold chains, but precious gems have probably taken over by now. When you are getting paid multi-millions to play a boy's game I doubt embarrassment comes into the picture. And being a baseball player hasn't been a job in since I don't know when.

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    4. Well I always did like the song "Shiny, Happy, People". If we can maintain an .800 Win Pct I don't really care what the silly fad is!

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    5. Well since forever I guess... Ty Cobb knew it was his job to play baseball professionally and wanted to be paid accordingly.... what was that? 1918? We'll call it a hundred years just to skip the rounding of the numbers, yes?

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    6. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/cobbty01.shtml

      Well he started in 1905 with us, back when it was just a game. But a game that he took very seriously. So seriously that Shoeless Joe Jackson had this to say about him in Field of Dreams...

      Shoeless Joe Jackson: Ty Cobb wanted to play, but none of us could stand the son-of-a-bitch when we were alive, so we told him to stick it!

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  7. Well that sure was a heck of a lot of violent jerking movements for such a straight pitch served up for that big hit in the 10th. For a minute there I thought he might cause himself a neck injury the way he was snapping his head around there. I really would have liked if they had a replay from a frontal angle to show us on replay, but we only ever saw a couple shots from the backside and no other looks.

    And I'd like to see the stats on how many dangerous collisions have happened in that OF, and what the proportion is between Dodgers versus other teams. That was brutal, and more bad luck for Avila who is a magnet for mayhem. It was nice to see Ausmus take the time to go out there and check up on him to make sure he was ok to continue. Playing Catcher for a living is a pretty tough job!

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  8. That's how you play 3B. No errors and hit some HRs. Works like a charm. Nice shot Nick. Now we need TC to take one out to TC.

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