Monday, May 18, 2009

The Curious Case of Armando Galarraga

A month ago, Armando Galarraga had essentially replaced Justin Verlander as the Tigers’ staff ace.
Now there is the thought he might be replaced in the Tigers’ starting rotation because of ineffectiveness.
What a turnaround, eh?
There are a lot of things that can be figured out in baseball. Often pitching isn’t one of them. Looking at the DVR of Galarraga’s dismal 41-pitch performance against Oakland, there is no falloff in velocity. There has been, however, a noticeable difference in late movement. It’s obvious he is not as confident throwing first-pitch fastballs for strikes as he had been earlier this season, and throughout last year when he won 13 games and was easily Detroit’s best pitcher.
It’s been like Galarraga had it one day - and the next it was gone. You didn’t hear grandiose explanations about what is happening from manager Jim Leyland, did you? It’s because he doesn’t have any.
The Tigers have played reasonably well and I expect them to be in contention. But in order to get the maximum out of this season, they need a quick bounce back from Galarraga. Justin Verlander appears to have returned to form and there is no reason to expect Edwin Jackson won’t continue pitching well, but Rick Porcello is still very much at the beginning of his learning curve - and it could take time. To me, Dontrelle Willis and Jeremy Bonderman remain iffy options. Willis still looked shaky in his start against Minnesota, and I hear Bonderman isn’t throwing hard - and the Tigers biggest hope after he had surgery is that his velocity would return. It had fallen off a few miles an hour last season before he had the surgery.
Galarraga is a key for the Tigers. They need him to be one of their workhorses. It will be the first major test for new pitching coach Rick Knapp. Wonder if he will pass it.

Random Thoughts

- In retrospect, the Red Wings were wise to re-sign Johan Franzen before Marian Hossa. Hossa is a terrific player, but Franzen is more valuable to the Red Wings.

- Who in this town isn’t rooting for Chauncey Billups and the Nuggets to oust Kobe Bryant and the Lakers from the NBA’s Western Conference finals? Billups never said anything remotely bad about the Pistons’ trading him. He just went out and proved he was the wrong fall guy for the Pistons’ stagnation in the playoffs.

- Right-handed reliever Casey Fien has thrown six straight scoreless outings for Toledo. But there is one major hurdle he must get over before considered major league ready. Can he get left-handed hitters out?

My column in Monday's Oakland Press about Game 1 of The Red Wings-Blackhawks series:

The latest edition of "The Book and His Boss" about steriods in baseball:



Blogger Barry said...

Hey Pat, with a bunch of #3 starters on the staff they look like aces one day and #5 the next. Having a bunch of #3 starters is a good idea and very cost effective. The Tigers looks good with #3 starters, Zumaya in the pen and good defense at every position and above average speed at these positions. That formula spells contention. Galarraga made some bad pitches on Sunday belt high down the middle. What can you expect with pitches like that. Galarraga game is control and he has to get back to making quality pitches. I think his pitches are more effective down in the strike zone. Right now Zumaya and Jackson are both making excellent pitches right now and Galarraga should be able get back his command. This is a good test for Mr.Knapp.

11:07 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat, If Galarraga can't regain his form, it will ultimately fall on Zach Minor. Maybe he can be adequate to the task. Dave

11:24 PM 
Anonymous Mike said...

Whether Franzen or Hossa would be more valuable in the future for the Wings is debatable, but what really seals the deal is Franzen's salary, which is a lot less than Hossa would command.

We got a bargain with Johan.

7:15 AM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

I will give Gallaraga a few more starts but if he continues to spot the opposition a 5 spot every outing he may have to be the odd duck out.. That said I think willis is the most intriuging of them all.. I mean I wasn't impressed in his rehab starts nor was I impressed with his first start back.. I am pulling for the Old Dontrell to some how find magic again... 1-3 I think we are solid and the bullpen though rough around the edges has some nice peices. If the tigers are in contention does dombrowski pull a triger some how at the deadline to put this team over the top or does he ride the wave with what we got?

Billups I think was strictly a cap move.. nothing more nothing less. I think the problem around the pistons was Sheed became Sheed of old and his piss poor attitude rubbed off on everyone else not named McDyess and Bynum. It showed in the rest of the teams dimeanor.. And when sheed was into it so was the rest of the guys.

2:22 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Verlander should be more than that. His raw talent is as good as any starter in baseball. I'm not so sure about Galarraga. Sometimes a pitcher will have a good season, but never gets it back. He came out of nowhere and could go back as quickly. Time will tell. It could go either way.

2:46 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

The thing about Miner is once they start trusting him after he pitches well for awhile, he tends to fall apart. He's been up and down.

2:47 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Hossa is the better player, but Franzen plays a more needed for the Red Wings as a power forward - especially during the playoffs.

2:48 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

It was disappointing how Rasheed Wallace has responded the last few years when the Pistons needed him the most.

2:49 PM 
Blogger Barry said...

Your right Pat, I fail to exclude Verlander from that group.

4:34 PM 

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