Originally written on Tigers Weblog  |  Last updated 11/10/14
Congratulations to Jose Alvarez on a fine 1st MLB victory yesterday. Thank you, Donkey Kong! Thanks also to Miguel Cabrera for the comedy of throwing his gum at Ryan Raburn rounding the bases after the HR. (It was Raburn who hit the HR, unfortunately. Sorry for the confusion. But it would have been funny either way.) The Detroit Tigers (35-26, 5.5 games up in 1st place, winning streak at 4), after a 5-1 home stand that we mostly complained about (ha ha), begin their latest road trip with a three-game series at Kaufman Stadium against the Kansas City Royals (28-32, 3rd place, 6.5 GB). The two teams split a pair earlier this season when the Royals looked tough to beat. Since then, Detroit has ascended in a two steps forward (starting pitching), one step back (bullpen and where have the bats gone) manner that characterizes the entire season, while Kansas City, I have heard, has fallen from grace largely due to the disappearance of its offense. Kaufman Stadium, you may recall, is where Miggy got the standing O last October when his Triple Crown achievement was announced. Classy. Although I seem to also recall some not-so-classy reaction from the KC crowd at the 2012 All-Star Game that also made headlines. Don’t remember what that was about. Monday. June 10, 8:10 PM EDT: RHP Doug Fister (5-3, 3.27) v. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (6-3, 3.66) We all remember Fister’s 9 straight Ks against the Royals (at Comerica) last season. What we’ve forgotten is that his very next start was also against them, at Kaufman Stadium, and while it wasn’t a disaster, it was labored and ineffective, and he lasted only 4.1 (believe it or not, he also hit a batter). Guthrie happened to be his opponent that game, and picked up the win with a quality start. Current Tigers have a lot of history with Guthrie, and they have – unequivocally – hit him hard. Current Royals have a goodly amount of PA vs. Fister, but have hit him for average more than damage. Tuesday, June 11, 8:10 PM EDT: RHP Max Scherzer (8-0, 3.24) v. RHP Wade Davis (3-5, 5.66) These pitchers faced each other in Detroit on April 24, and neither fared well in a game the Tigers eventually won (that also marked the return of Jose Valverde). Scherzer made his poorest start of the season (in 5 IP) but still picked up the win, while things just kind of progressively fell apart for Davis in his 3.2, with assistance from an untimely error by 3B Eric Hosmer. It should be noted that .197-at-the-time V-Mart was 2 for 3 with 2 RBI off Davis. Wednesday, June 12, 2:10 PM EDT: RHP Justin Verlander v. RHP James Shields (2-6, 2.81) The last Verlander/Shields matchup was April 25 at Comerica, and it was a good and evenly matched one with no decision for either in a game later decided (in the 10th) by one of the more notable Tigers bullpen implosions this season. WEATHER: The KC area forecast is all warmth and sunshine through Wednesday. All stats current as of June 8. MEET THE ROYALS: HITTING: .258 AVG (Tigers .283), .312 OBP (.350), .371 SLG (.434), .682 OPS (.785), 232 R (313), 31 HR (66), 45 of 55 SB (19 of 24). STARTING PITCHING: 3.86 ERA (Tigers 3.51), .268 BAA (.241), 1.32 WHIP (1.15), 289/110 K/BB (411/90), 54 HR (24). BULLPEN: 150 IP (Tigers 169), 11-9 W-L (4-11), 2.88 ERA (3.89), .228 BAA (.230), 1.21 WHIP (1.29), 138/55 K/BB (180/74), 15 HR (16). DEFENSE: .983 FPCT (Tigers .990), .694 DefEff (.682), 50 DP (44), 69% SBPCT (78%), OF ASSISTS 16 (6), UNEARNED RUNS 23 (13). What should give the Tigers the edge is hitting. Aside from DH Billy Butler and LF Alex Gordon, production from the lineup has become a struggle for KC. You can see from the 31 HR and .371 SLG that the Royals are a team in need of manufactured runs that aren’t being manufactured. However, Detroit bats had best not go into famine mode here. The advantage swings to KC if the scores are low, and even if the Tigers managed to come away with 2 of 3, we don’t want another Mariners series, do we? No. We want domination, or at least two solid thumpings. A TIGERS BULLPEN REPORT CARD THRU 60 GAMES What the overall odds (Tigers 2013) are for the following per-pitcher, per-inning bullpen appearance results: 40% Nothing but outs 33% Reaches/advances but no runs during or after 24% Runs allowed *3% Reaches/advances that later scored 73% No damage (combining the first two categories) NOTHING BUT OUTS (100% Porcello in 2 IP) 52% Coke 50% Valverde 46% Downs 44% Benoit 43% Smyly 40% Ortega 40% Putkonen (Hey, the above is was the current bullpen. What a coincidence.) 29% Dotel 25% Alburquerque 25% Rondon *0% Reed *0% Villareal REACHES/ADVANCES BUT NO RUNS DURING/AFTER 20% Downs 20% Coke 25% Rondon 29% Dotel 31% Valverde 38% Smyly 40% Benoit 40% Alburquerque 40% Putkonen 47% Ortega 57% Villareal 67% Reed REACHES/ADVANCES THAT LATER SCORED 3% Benoit 5% Smyly 5% Alburquerque 7% Downs (All others 0%) RUNS ALLOWED 13% Benoit 13% Ortega 14% Smyly 19% Valverde 20% Putkonen 27% Downs 28% Coke 30% Alburquerque 33% Reed 43% Dotel 43% Villareal 50% Rondon NO-DAMAGE % (Porcello at 100%, of course) 87% Ortega 83% Benoit 81% Smyly 81% Valverde 80% Putkonen 72% Coke 67% Downs 67% Reed 65% Alburquerque 57% Dotel 50% Rondon 14% Villareal Tell me your bottom line on all this. Are we being too hard on the Tigers pen? Without MLB-wide averages on % of “Nothing but outs,” etc., that’s a hard question to answer. For Jose Valverde in particular, it’s clear enough that his results have been good, and yet we decry his lack of stuff and forecast doom. And I obviously need to rethink my position on Benoit and Putkonen, among others. (Jose Ortega has been optioned  to Toledo to make room for fill-in starter Jose Alvarez, by the way.  You’d imagine that this is just a temporary roster shuffle and that Ortega will be back, pending the return of formerly sore-shouldered Anibal Sanchez.) Austin Jackson, who has missed nearly half the season now with the hamstring injury (the caution is understandishable), is to begin a rehab assignment with Toledo today (Monday). Meanwhile, the even longer-absent Octavio Dotel has become a popular attraction at early summer cookouts, his elbow apparently so inflamed that he’s able to grill burgers and brats on his bare arm. Dotel has been placed anew on the DL, I hear. 60-day. Coleman’s game post/game result success continues. He’s 15-8, while Kevin is back in the race at 12-9 and I bring up the rear at 8-9 (not my fault, I tell you). I think it’s only fair to ask Coleman to provide tonight’s lineup(s) and rub some of his good luck off on this game. Post-game will be right back here.
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