Game 1: Carlos Silva vs Nate Robertson
Game 2: Felix Hernandez vs Justin Verlander
Game 3: Miguel Batista vs Kenny Rogers*
Skipping Washburn yay! Though this does mean that Felix's start now falls on softball day. Don't be fooled by Robertson's high RA, he has a tRA of 4.43 being the victim of a bad BABIP, he's solidly above average across the board.
What's up with Verlander? The man who broke onto the scene with terrific velocity but no strikeouts was slowly gaining strikeouts each year until falling off a cliff this season. A velocity drop on his fastball of nearly two miles per hour might be the culprit as the man who once could flirt with 100 is now down to an average fastball of just over 93. He's not missing many bats any more, down 2% from last year to a below average 6.75%. The rampant speculation is that he's injured.
Kenny Rogers on the other hand, just sucks. He's running a 5.81 tRA while striking out less than 10% of batters faced (league average is over 15%) mostly due to his complete lack of stuff as witnessed by his swing% of just over 5%. He was moderately useful last season when his strikeout to walk ratio was better and he kept the ball on the ground more, but those have all gone backwards and he looks, if not done then close to it.
C Ivan Rodriguez
1 Miguel Cabrera
2 Placido Polanco
3 Carlos Guillen
S Edgar Renteria
L Marcus Thames/Matthew Joyce
C Curtis Granderson
R Magglio Ordonez
D Gary Sheffield
If you've noticed throughout the year, my typical response to the "surprising" Tigers has been to note that anyone who didn't pay attention to their mediocre pitching and defense was being blinded by their offensive potential. Through the first 1/3 of a season I was right about that. While the offense was doing its thing after shaking off a slow first ten games, the pitching and defense were horrible.
But the Tigers took quick action and ended the Miguel Cabrera tenure at third base after just 14 games and moving him to first base illustrating why he, like Hanley Ramirez, was overrated (defense matters!). They also dumped Jacque Jones (.857 RZR) for Matthew Joyce (.967(!!) RZR) and now their defense according to THT stands within the margin of error of league average. Their pitching still sucks, but hey, three games against the Ms will help.
2006: 17.6 LD%, .315 BABIP [this is an expected value given LD%]
2007: 19.2 LD%, .381 BABIP [DANGER! DANGER! Regression imminent]
2008: 18.1 LD%, .346 BABIP [still too high]
Miguel Cabrera has seen his line drive rate drop from a four year average of ~22% in Florida to just 14% so far this year. Meanwhile, his percentage of flyballs leaving the yard has also dropped from a four-year average of 19.25% to 13%. Park factors play a small role here because both Florida and Detroit are notorious homerun suppressors and their relative difference is slight. These are not good signs for a guy you've locked up for the next eight years and who you've already moved to first base.
Which is the greater quantity: (Jeremy Reed's glove in LF - Raul's glove in LF) or (Miguel Cairo's glove at 1B - Vidro's glove at 1B)? I'm pretty confident that the former trumps the latter. Whose bat is more valuable: Reed's or Cairo's? At worst I'd call this a wash, but again I'm pretty confident the Reed is more valuable. Our manager seems to favor the quantities that involve Cairo. Even if you did think Cairo's glove/leadership/grit/whatever at 1B was valuable he still could have gone with Cairo at first, Reed in left and Ibanez at DH and just put Vidro in his most valuable spot; the bench, where he cannot collect plate appearances.
I've been a quasi-defender of McLaren over the past month and I will stick with saying that the vast majority of this team's problems have everything to do with what goes on between the lines and very very little to do with what goes on in the dugout and clubhouse. But I cannot defend Mac any further after this. He's not the root cause of this team's problems, but he's not helping. I don't think firing him will do anything, but I don't think retaining him will either. Hopefully after the next six games (specifically the three versus Anaheim), we'll either be riding a momentum wave and can see how long that will take us or 2008 will be over and the team can start building for 2009 (Morrow for rotation!).
THIS SERIES BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
Hair of the Dog Brewing. Portland, OR
Poured dark with little to no head. A nice malty aroma with some hints of berry and vanilla. Taste is rich and heavenly with malt, chocolate and dark berry with some hints of smokiness. Great body. Also, it turns out that if you mix it with some Arrogant Bastard, you get an awesomely new concoction that would be a threat to liver's everywhere.