Friday, April 25, 2008

Is The Tigers Resurgence Real Or A Mirage?

The panic button has been set aside for the Tigers. Pounding the Texas Rangers has renewed their season. They definitely aren’t out of any sort of contention. They obviously have new life. They have survived the 2-10 start.
But has the Tigers’ resurgence been because they are playing that much better, or because the Rangers are just a bad team?
I think there are elements of both there. First of all, the Tigers did split in Toronto. The win Monday was particularly meaningful. Secondly, they beat Minnesota two straight home games before that road trip. They have actually played reasonably well overall since their dismal start, especially at Comerica Park
The bullpen has been beyond a pleasant surprise. Clay Rapada, Aquilino Lopez and Denny Bautista are no names that have come though. The thunder everybody expected from the Tigers’ zillion dollar lineup has been displayed. Having Curtis Granderson back speaks volumes for his value.
The fly in the ointment, though, is starting pitching. Other than rookie Armando Galarraga, it has been poor. If that doesn’t change, the Tigers are going to have trouble remaining in contention.
Problem is, they are locked in with these starters. There aren’t other options. There is a lot of money invested in the starting five, so much so that you’re not going to see anything like one of them moving to the bullpen, where they all would be an ill fit anyway. If anybody goes to the bullpen, it will be Galarraga.
The key is Dontrelle Willis. When healthy, he will likely be given some time on rehab assignment in the minors to test his knee and - more importantly - work out his control issues.
A good litmus test for the Tigers comes this weekend against the Angels. If they win this series, it would be more significant proof of the Tigers improvement than beating up on the Rangers.

Random Thoughts

- I thought the atmosphere at Joe Louis Arena Thursday night for Game 1 of the Red Wings series with Colorado was the most electrifying I have seen there since prior to the lockout. Seems like fans are trusting the Red Wings again.

- If there is a danger in this series, it is Colorado goalie Peter Budaj. He was tested severely by the Wings, stopping all 20 shots he faced in relief of Jose Theodore, who was awful before being pulled for ineffectiveness and illness. The last thing the Wings need to see is some average goalie getting hot against them in a playoff series, although he does seem to be their modus operandi, doesn’t it.

- The Lions goal in the draft should be to just be solid. Make good, sound fundamental choices. None of this thinking outside the box stuff. They have four picks in the first three rounds and need to find good football players with all of them. No wide receivers. No quarterbacks. A linebacker - definitely. An offensive lineman - definitely. A running back - definitely. More defensive help - obviously.


Blogger Andrew M. Fanco said...

Could Kenny be ready to hang up the pinetar? Perhaps Dontrelle could come back and take his spot and Kenny can replace Chuck Hernandez as pitching coach.

Just a thought.

1:31 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...


I agree with you about the starting pitching. I have finally been able to watch a few of the tigers games, and their starting pitching is horendous. Worse than what the stats say. No-one seems to be able to throw a strike! Also, Rapada will not be good against patient teams like NY and Boston, but perfect against free swinging teams because his ball moves all over the place (but rarely in the strikezone). Aquilino Lopez is the guy who has really impressed me. He just seems like a good pitcher. Always throwing around the stikezone, and all of his pitches seem to have late movement.


1:41 PM 
Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Pat the Book,

Right On. Write On. Let me doing some figuring. If the Tigers are now at 10-13 and started at 2-10, then upon doing some grade school ciphering...why that means the Boys of Summer are 8-3 since the apocalypse. Keep on keeping on.

Couldn't agree with you more regarding the bullpen. A pleasant and needed surprise, especially since the starters have been very disappointing. Two out of three this weekend puts the Tigers at 12-14. I dare not write what a sweep of the Halos would leave the record.

I will beg to differ with you about the possibility of a starter going to the pen. If Galarraga pitches well on Saturday, particularly if Nate lays a stink bomb on Friday evening, then I would have no qualms about sending Mr. Robertson out past the leftfield fence when Willis returns.

Also, if Dontrelle pitches like he's throwing rotten eggs instead of hardball, then let him have a conversation with the Rollercoaster on how to pitch in the Bigs until you reach 40.

Good read in the OP about the Wings win last night. Bettman is a joke. What grinds me about his regime is he acts like the NHL didn't exist prior to his tenure. Those first 75 years of the league celebrated a few years ago, there really were no meaningful traditions or rivalries established during that time.

2:41 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

andrew m fanco,
There comes a time for all athletes. Rogers is performing as if his career is near the end. Don't see it for awhile, though.

9:09 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Lopez has been the team MVP so far. Makes you wonder why they didn't turn to him more last season. He did pretty well when given a chance then, too.

9:10 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
Robertson hasn't had the results, but he has thrown the ball well. His velocity is back up for him. Don't see them moving him to the bullpen. Rogers is the one that should come out of the rotation most based on performance, but how would Leyland handle that?

9:12 AM 

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