Monday, May 07, 2007

TWFE Detroit Tigers 30 game review: Pitching

Jeremy Bonderman: Bondo finally got a win, after 5 no-decisions. Bonderman has had the same issue every season, 2007 is no different. For whatever reason, in most of his starts, he digs himself a 1st inning hole. It's as if the light doesn't turn on till he flips a switch in the 2nd inning. He then pitches well, if not dominates. By the time Bonderman straightens himself out, the Tigers are down a run or more. To emphasize that point, in his 5 no-decisions, the Tigers were 1-4. Bonderman is going to have a good season. It won't be great if he is unable curb his 1st inning, for lack of a better word, jitters.

Chad Durbin: I put Durbin on double secret probation after starting the season with 3 awful starts. In his 3 starts since probation, Durbin is 2-0, with 2 quality starts. The Tigers won all 3. The question we all had before the season was, "Is Durbin a major league pitcher?" He's shown that he's at least a 5th starter. do I want Durbin in the rotation? No, but until the Tigers decide they have a better option in the minors, (You all know who are the usual suspects) Durbin is the number 5 starter. Just be prepared for a white knuckle ride in his starts.

Jason Grilli: Grilli is a favorite punching bag for the Tigers fans who know how to use the internet. What do I think? Look at Grilli's stats. One awful appearance (The April 4th game against Toronto that was played in gale force winds, and Grilli was the victim of several fluky plays) skewed Grilli's stats. Grilli is just fine as a middle relief guy. Does he inspire complete confidence? No, but how many middle relief pitchers do? I'll just put it this way. If the Tigers waived Grilli, another team would snatch him up immediately.

Todd Jones: The Grand Poobah of the white knuckle parade. I think Jones revels in scaring the living shit out of Tigers fans, then pitching out of his self made jams. I don't know how he does it, but somehow the Rollercoaster continues to pile up the saves. I know saves are an overrated stat, but the Rollercoaster does what he is paid to do. He leads the AL in saves. Jones is proof positive of how successful a pitcher can be if he throws strikes. Considering what we learned about Joel Zumaya's finger today, Jones is, for better or worse, the Tigers closer for the foreseeable future. It may be past this season. Think about it, Zumaya's future is at worst, uncertain. In fact, he could still end up in the rotation. We all have seen how Rodney can struggle to find the strike zone. Who knows how long we'll have to lick the Rollercoaster around? It may be longer than we'd care to think...

Wilfredo Ledezma: Ledezma is criminally underrated. On most teams, he's starting every 5th day. With the pitching loaded Tigers, Ledezma is a glorified LOOGY. Out of all the Tigers in the pen, now that Zumaya is hurt, Ledezma is the pitcher I'd trust most to get the big out with runners on base.

Aquilino López: When I first read López's name, I almost did a double take, thinking it was the same name as the late, great "Señor Smoke." I'm not sure what to make of López yet, with 1 solid outing and 3 that were not at all impressive. With Zumaya out (Notice how often he's been mentioned?) I'm sure López will get more opportunities to impress. But so far, he hasn't.

Mike Maroth: Supposedly recovered from last season's elbow surgery, Maroth hasn't pitched nearly as well as he did in 2006. Despite that, Maroth is 2-0, and the Tigers have won all 6 of his starts. I'm not sure if that actually means anything, but it is worth mentioning. So far, Maroth has been nothing more than a 5 inning pitcher. He's kept the Tigers in games, but puts a strain on the bullpen. I expected more from Maroth, and I suspect the Tigers did as well.

José Mesa: Brought in during the off season to bolster bullpen depth, Joe Table has just come back from a stint on the DL, and will be expected to pick up much of the late inning slack during Zumaya's absence. From what I've seen so far, I hope that's not asking too much. Before going on the DL, he was throwing the equivalent of batting practice. In his first appearance after being activated, I have to admit that Mesa did pitch well. It was only one batter, but it was with men on base, and he got the out needed to get out of the jam. Let's hope that's the Joe Table we see from here on out.

Nate Robertson: I said that this was going to be Robertson's break out season. A 3-1 record with a 2.48 ERA (4th in the AL) has me thinking that, for once, I may be right. With the Gambler on the DL, Robertson has stepped up his game, pitching like the staff ace. He's on track for a career year, and with some of the staff's injury issues, Mr. Gum Time couldn't have picked a better season to do so.

Fernando Rodney: Rodney's start to the season was awful. Then it got worse. He couldn't find the strike zone with a GPS unit. When you read of the the Tigers' bullpen collapsing, Rodney's thinking the strike zone was just a rumor was the big reason why. He was the bullpen cornerstone that suddenly couldn't hold his weight. After pitching coach Chuck Hernandez corrected a mechanical flaw, Rodney suddenly became lights out again. Once he became reacquainted with the strike zone, the bullpen suddenly looked much better. With Zumaya out, (There's his name again) Rodney has become the primary set-up man. I'd suggest keeping some Dramamine handy, as it may be a bumpy ride if Rodney goes into another funk.

Bobby Seay: Up to this point, Seay has been the biggest surprise of the season. He has cushioned the loss of Jamie Walker considerably, sliding into the LOOGY role without incident. Seay has proved effective against right handers as well in longer stints on the mound. Seay is another whose role will become even more important with the loss of Zumaya. For someone who won a roster spot in spring training, he has managed to become a quite important piece in the Tigers bullpen.

Justin Verlander: What sophomore slump? Verlander has been just dandy. His 2-1 record and 2.75 ERA confirms that Verlander is a top of the rotation pitcher. Unfortunately, he seems to have been designated as the pitcher who will get little run support, much to Nate Robertson's relief. Verlander has shown no ill effects from the innings thrown in his 1st big league season, much to the Tigers, and the fans, relief. Still, innings pitched is something that bears watching as the season moves forward.

Joel Zumaya: Well, the bad news we were all expecting came today. Zumaya is having surgery. He's out for 12 weeks with a ruptured tendon. It's been a whirlwind season for Zumaya. We had all the "Guitar Hero" crap in in the off season. Once the season started, he pitched well up to the point where he had an all around meltdown, losing both his control and composure in Chicago. That lead into a very rough patch of Zumaya channeling his inner Fernando Rodney when it came to throwing strikes. It looked as if Zumaya had found his control again, when he damaged his middle finger. It's a blow to the bullpen, but far from a death knell. Even without Zumaya, the Tigers have a good bullpen. On the bright side, it's not an arm or elbow issue, so he should come back with the same nasty stuff when healthy. Knock on wood...

No comments:

Post a Comment