Monday, April 7, 2008

"I'm not's just been raining...on my face"

On the Tigers 0-6 start...

Note to sportswriters, intrepid reporters, announcers, commentators, bloggers...actually, pretty much everyone: please stop blaming this on the bullpen, because...

1. The starting pitching has been just as bad. Verlander, Bonderman, Robertson, Rogers, and Willis (he of the single ugliest no-hit bid--5 IP, O H, 7 walks, 46 strikes and 43 balls, 21 batters faced, zero the point where I was begging Leyland to pull him while the no-hitter was still intact--I've ever seen) have the following combined line:

6 GS, 34 IP, 33 H, 19 BB, 5 HR, 20 K, 22 ER, 1.53 WHIP, 5.82 ERA, 5.3 K/9, 1 quality start (Rogers).

The relievers, long the collective whipping boys for the Detroit media, have performed as follows:

22 IP, 24 H, 8 BB, 2 HR, 15 K, 11 ER, 1.45 WHIP, 4.50 ERA, 6.1 K/9

Now, I'm not going to pretend these numbers are particularly awesome (they're not, though--somewhat terrifyingly--the notoriously shaky Todd Jones is tied for the lowest ERA on the team), but it's pretty clear that it's the starters getting the team in trouble. Do I wish the bullpen could bail out Verlander when he gets himself in a sticky situation (see last night and opening day)? Absolutely...but I don't really blame them if they can't emerge unscathed from runners on the corner with none out.

(Seriously, Willis, no strikeouts? How is that even remotely possible??)

2. Poor hitting. Guillen's batting .400 so far (although, with only 1 RBI), but other guys in the meat of the order are struggling mightly: Ordonez (.280), Sheffield (.200), Cabrera (.111), and Polanco (.087). More to the point, they've only had two multi-run innings in six games, and, arguably even worse, a mere eleven multi-hit innings out of 56 played. (Jesse says that luck plays a major role in this latter stat, which is probably true--I think that might've been in Moneyball--but it's still annoying.) They're also hitting into a hell of a lot of double plays (Cabrera did this twice last night; after the second one, he was promptly booed--way to not reveal yourselves as fair weather fans, Detroit.) This would be considered bad for most teams, but is especially egregious for a squad projected to lead the league in runs going away.

I'll save my rant about how they're horribly impatient at the plate (which is fine when the bats are hot, but infuriating when they're cold) for another time.

3. Random, silly mistakes. Look no further than last night, when after tying the game up at 1 in the bottom of the third, Santiago inexplicably tried to stretch a double into a triple and proceeded to get thrown out by six feet, thus making the first out...and killing what had the makings of a big inning in the process. See also the sure-handed Carlos Guillen dropping a routine throw to first in the top of the sixth, opening the door for (what amounted to) a game-ending six-run inning for the Sox.

4. A bit of bad luck. Polanco, Sheffield, Cabrera (sort of), Granderson (that one really hurts, we need him back desperately), Zumaya (again!), and Rodney (ok, that one is probably a good thing) have all been felled by injuries thus far, so we're not exactly at full strength at the moment. Yes, I'm officially making excuses--who had April 7th in the office pool?

5. Schedule. Up next: three on the road against the reeling Red Sox, three on the road against the White Sox (who have owned the Tigers for, more or less, the past decade), two at home against Minnesota, two on the road against Cleveland, four on the road against the white hot Jays, three at home against Texas (finally!), three at home against the Angels, two on the road against the Yankees...and that's April for them. Yikes! I'll be honest, looking at the pitching probables (Dice-K against Rogers tomorrow...that's not good) they could easily drop 4 of the next 6, and come home to Minnesota a cool (frigid, in fact) 2-10. Chief Wiggum once said, this is probably going to get worse before it gets better.

Thankfully, this is a team than can get (and stay) hot quickly, and could easily reel off seven or eight in a row. (Granderson--who, fingers crossed--should be back in the next ten days, will facilitate this.)

As, before you ask, yes, I do blame Shuk for all of this. [Shakes fist]

College Hoops (briefly)

Note on tonight's championship game: hilariously, the two teams I've bagged on the most the past three weeks (aside from Georgetown--poor, defenseless Georgetown) are in the final, so, either way, I'm bound to look like a chump. I have no stake in tonight's game (I've already won one pool...and am knocked out in my other ones), so I'm just hoping for a tight, well-played game, something that's been in short supply since, oh, round 2. I kind of like Memphis tonight, as I think that Douglas-Roberts and (especially) Derrick Rose will essentially refuse to lose. So let's go with 64-59 Memphis tonight.

1 comment:

Jesse said...

I'm not saying it's completely random; I don't go as far as Moneyball. I think, though, that it's not as in the control of the batter as we all thought it was when we were kids.