Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Morning Manager: Week 7

Last Week: 3-4
This Week: at Cle (5/22-24); at Min (5/25-27)

So, What Happened?

Every time the Tigers get a "big win", you think it might be the win to trigger a winning streak. Yet it hasn;t happened in over a month.

The Tigers continue to be without consecutive wins since April 18, despite a stunning comeback in Chicago on Tuesday and Justin Verlander's near no-hitter on Friday.

In fact, they were swept in a two-game series at home by the pitiful Minnesota Twins.

The big story was Verlander, who pitched 8.1 no-hit innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Even though JV narrowly missed his third career no-hitter, manager Jim Leyland called Verlander's gem the best game he's seen pitched. Ever.

So the Tigers continue to wander around, alternating wins and losses everyday in a monotonous display of mediocrity that is bringing their fan base to a rolling boil.

Hero of the Week
Speaking of monotonous, MMM fears he may be heading that way if he dares to name Verlander  as the HotW yet again.

But while Verlander's mastery of the Pirates was the big story, MMM is going with Alex Avila in what many of you may say is either a surprise pick, or one that's just plain odd.

There's method to MMM's madness.

MMM is hoping that by picking Avila, it might kick start him a little bit---that and the big hit he had in Sunday's win. With runners on second and third in a tie game in the seventh inning, Avila, against a tough lefty reliever, fought off a couple good pitches before lacing a single through a drawn-in infield to put the Tigers ahead to stay, 4-2.

Avila needed that hit badly, as FSD's Rod Allen said on the air. The Tigers catcher is one of those "role" players whose part is being played by an understudy, or an impostor.

MMM is hoping that a little HotW love will help get Avila going. Plus, it truly was a big hit he had on Sunday!

Honorable mention: Max Scherzer, for his on-again, 15-strikeout performance on Sunday.

Goat of the Week

MMM is cranky with a few folks, so that makes choosing just one Goat rather difficult.

After careful consideration, MMM is pinning the rap on Don Kelly. 

This may seem unfair, but MMM has never claimed to be the hallmark of justice.

Kelly had a chance to give the Tigers a lift when he took over the center field and leadoff jobs from the injured Austin Jackson, but instead he took one collar after the other, giving the Tigers essentially two straight no. 9 hitters in their lineup.

Jackson's absence and Kelly's presence were felt many times over the weekend, as it seemed like several rallies were taking shape when Jackson's leadoff spot came up in the inning. But Jackson wasn't there---and Kelly wasn't, either, as he made out after out.

Kelly is fine defensively but has gone 1-for-17 since replacing Jackson as the starter in CF.

Under the Microscope
This is a group "effort" this week.

MMM saw over the weekend that when guys like Avila, Delmon Young, Ryan Raburn and Jhonny Peralta (Brennan Boesch, too) produce, the Tigers are a MUCH better team. And that's why the team hasn't been able to put together a winning streak---those guys just aren't getting it done consistently, if at all.

Avila's big hit on Sunday cemented what had been brewing in MMM's sometimes-demented mind: if that kind of hit had been occurring more often from the aforementioned individuals, the Tigers would probably be in first place right now, instead of three games behind.

So MMM is placing the guys mentioned above, collectively, UtM.

If that group of guys gets it going, you'll start to see winning streaks again---guaranteed.

Upcoming: Indians, Twins

The Tigers travel to Cleveland to face the first-place Indians in late-May.

Sound familiar?

The Indians are doing it again---leading a weak division in the early stages of the season, just like in 2011.

But this time the Tigers are just three games back; last season, the Tigers were as many as seven games behind the Tribe before June.

Cleveland started last season 30-15 before things started to fall apart. This year, the Indians are 23-18.

It's  hard for MMM to say that a series in May is "big," but given the Tigers' current case of the blahs, performing well in Cleveland this week would go a long way toward making everyone feel good about the Bengals.

Plus, who wants to fall any further back in a race than they already are?

Verlander is set to pitch the series finale in Cleveland on Thursday, with one extra day's rest.

As for those pesky Twins, as MMM said last week, strange things sometimes happen when the Tigers play those guys from Minnesota, and those strange things seem to never work in the Tigers' favor.

The Twins did win four straight before being clobbered on Sunday. The first two of those wins came in Detroit last week.

But MMM loves that the Metrodome is gone!

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



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