Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Morning Manager

Last Week: 3-4
This Week: at Tex (4/26); MIN (4/27-29); LAA (4/30-5/2)

So what happened?

Here's what DIDN'T happen: significant innings from the Tigers' starting pitchers.

The bullpen was busier than Ben Roethlisberger's PR team last week, having to pitch at least three innings and sometimes more in every game.

It didn't help that Dontrelle Willis had to skip his start on Saturday due to illness, pressing lefty Brad Thomas into duty. Thomas lasted just three rocky innings.

Rick Porcello is starting to get ghoulishly sophomore jinx-ish; Sunday's brief stint was his third poor showing in a row.

The starters' inability to go deep into games couldn't have come at a worse time, given the Tigers' brutal schedule that is devoid of off days. Now would be a great time for a rainout or two.

Offensively, the Tigers are doing OK but are stranding way too many runners on base, which is either costing them games or at the very least making them scramble in the late innings to make up for what they weren't able to do in the earlier innings.

Tonight marks the end of the team's 11-game road trip; the Tigers have gone 4-6 so far.

Hero of the Week

Miguel Cabrera.

Cabrera is an RBI machine right now. He has 22 of them in 75 AB, and he's getting them in all sorts of ways: booming home runs, laced doubles, opposite field singles; you name it. The ribbies are seemingly always clutch, to boot. He never drives in a meaningless run.

Even more impressive is that Cabby has only struck out seven times, which would put him in the 60 strikeout range for the season, which for a punishing hitter like him is amazing.

The BA is .347, the OBA is .437, and the SA is .627. Lots of sevens there, which is what the Tigers seem to roll whenever Cabrera steps to the plate with runners on base.

For the week, Cabrera went 9-for-29 with eight RBI. Six of his hits were doubles, another was a home run.

The guy's a beast and you'd better stop whatever you're doing to watch a Cabrera at-bat. He's like Cecil Fielder in that respect.

Goat of the Week

The Tigers' starting pitchers, collectively.

The bullpen is being called upon way too often, and for far too many innings.

The Tigers' top three of Justin Verlander, Porcello, and Max Scherzer would appear to be so good as to leave most of the bullpen innings for the Nos. 4 and 5 guys. But only Scherzer, who leads the team with 24 innings pitched, has been able to pitch deep consistently.

The back end guys (Jeremy Bonderman and Willis) aren't helping in this area, but they weren't counted on to do so. Bondo (7.20 ERA) did go six innings at the Angels last week, so maybe that's a good sign.

Upcoming: Twins and Angels

The Tigers finish their road trip with a wraparound series finale tonight in Texas.

After that, it's another big week.

Two teams widely considered as playoff contenders visit Comerica Park.

First up are those damn Minnesota Twins, who keep losing key players and keep not letting it bother them.

Joe WHO?

New closer Jon Rauch is 6-for-7 in save chances, with a 2.00 ERA, as he serves a one-year apprenticeship as the injured Joe Nathan's replacement.

Here's another Joe who you don't dare say WHO? about: catcher Joe Mauer, who is on the fast rack to the Hall of Fame.

All Mauer is doing is hitting .382 with 17 runs scored already. He might be the best all-purpose catcher since Johnny Bench, and maybe before Bench.

The Twins are 13-6 and are comfortably ensconced in first place in the AL Central, up three games on the second-place Tigers.

The Angels have clawed back to 10-10 after a rough start, including 2-2 against the Tigers last week in Los Angeles.

Something to watch, though, with the Angels is 3B Brandon Wood, who is in his first year as a regular and is 6-for-53 this season. The 25-year-old Wood went o-for-the Tigers series last week, and has struck out 17 times in 53 AB. How much longer before the Angels look elsewhere for a 3B? The other Angels 3B this season, Maicer Izturis, is hitting a robust .219.

That's all for this week's MMM. See you next Monday!