Thursday, July 27, 2006

Look Out -- Second Half Kenny May Have Just Blown Into Town

Uh-oh. Here it comes. As Neil Diamond once sang, "Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies."

Here comes Second Half Kenny.

You know what I mean: the post-All-Star Break Kenny Rogers.

Whispers of Second Half Kenny started before the break, actually, as in the hope that he wouldn't make an appearance in 2006. For with Rogers, at least in theory, leading the rotation, the last thing you would want is Second Half Kenny leading it.

Rogers' history, at least recently, has been one of the wheezing pitcher down the stretch -- the second half slumper. Step right up and see a man's ERA expand before your very eyes, folks!

It happened like that in Cleveland the other night. Rogers got clobbered by the Indians, beaten like a redheaded stepchild to the tune of seven earned runs in 2/3 of an inning. His ERA ballooned from 3.98 to 4.45. And so did the anxiety of Tigers fans everywhere.

Second Half Kenny has arrived, right on schedule.

Maybe it wouldn't happen here, this year, cooler heads said, trying to prevail. Cooler heads, because they tried to blame Rogers' second half slump last season on the Texas heat. Rogers pitched for the Rangers, in a city so devilishly hot that just about every home game is played at night -- even on Sundays. Surely the heat had something do with his wilting after July, the Cooler Heads told us.

Well, here we are in Detroit -- far removed from Texas, both geographically and in hotness -- and Second Half Kenny is upon us, anyway.

Overreaction to a bad start in Cleveland? The Cooler Heads would tell you that. But it wasn't just the 2005 season that saw Rogers' performance in the second half slip. It's been a recurring theme. And you know what else is recurring?


But I'm a certified Cooler Head. I'm here to tell you that this Tigers rotation is so good, so deep -- Zach Miner's recent struggles notwithstanding -- that it doesn't have to rely on any one man to carry it. Rogers is an important cog, no doubt, but with Jeremy Bonderman, Justin Verlander, and Nate Robertson tossing every fifth day, and with the Tigers' playoff lead comfortable at the moment, maybe we can all abide a little mini-slump from The Gambler.

It remains to be seen whether GM Dave Dombrowski will feel the need to add another starting pitcher to the roster before the July 31st non-waiver trading deadline. The team will be getting lefty Mike Maroth back sometime in late August, most likely. So there's your extra pitcher, should Dombrowski so desire. But will that be enough to quell the GM's fears -- should he have any -- that Second Half Kenny will make more than a cameo appearance this late summer?

In four days, we'll all know.


Blogger Ozz said...

Maroth will be a welcome sight!

In September, guys like Jordan Tata and Humberto Sanchez will probably be up from Toledo, and will probably each get at least one spot start to give guys' arms a rest.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Grubbyjohn said...

Hey, this guy got all of my NW Airlines frequent flyer miles in 1991!

John Grubb

9:41 AM  

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