Setting Up Detroit Tigers Pitching for Postseason Success

Closer Jose Valverde and starter Justin Verlander obviously anchor the pitching staff in Detroit. The former has forty save opportunities in the same amount of chances. The latter has garnered his twenty-first victory already with almost a month left. Valverde’s numbers are a little misleading because his whip is near one and a third. This would usually dictate a few blown saves, but he has been the master in working his way out of jams.

The team buried the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night after coming back from a seven run deficit.

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Detroit Tigers Reach the Top of the American League Central

The Detroit Tigers are a game behind the Cleveland Indians in the loss column, but tied for the AL Central lead. The momentum for the Tigers has been phenomenal lately. The Tigers and the Indians are the only two teams in the division that have won over half their games, but the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox are also approaching their potential lately.

The Kansas City Royals are and will continue to be an afterthought.

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Jim Leyland’s Return to Pittsburgh Less than Triumphant

I think Leyland has a point this time, Mr. Joyce
The Detroit Tigers played a three game interleague series last weekend in PNC Park in Pittsburgh. One of baseball’s most breathtaking ballparks has consistently housed one of the worst teams because ownership has refused to spend money over the last decade plus.

The last time that there was a competitive product on the field Jim Leyland was the manager. He took his Detroit Tigers into Pennsylvania looking to make a statement-only to come away limping on Sunday night.

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Verlander’s 2nd No Hitter Distracts Detroit Tiger Fans From Mediocrity

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On Saturday, Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander took a perfect game into the 8th inning in Toronto. It didn’t happen, but he did close out the no-hitter, the second of his career. He joins Mark Buerhle of the White Sox and Roy Halladay of the Phillies as the only active MLB pitchers with two. For Tigers fans, it was a nice distraction from how mediocre their season has been thus far.

The Tigers have posted a record of three and three in their last six entering Saturday’s play. The one consistency that they have demonstrated this season is a sense of malaise. Every time that they seem poised to make a run and turn things around, an obstacle inevitably blocks their path to success.

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Detroit Tigers Schedule Becomes More Favorable

The Detroit Tigers start to the season has been very average. The Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals have been the toast of the division, but that is obviously nothing more than fool’s gold.

The former would also lead the East and the West in the American League. Tell me that is going to last!

The best case scenario is that the success of the Royals and Indians sells some tickets now for future dates on the false premise that those games will mean something to those teams in their respective cities. At least the Tigers aren’t performing the way that the Twins and White Sox are.

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Assessing the Detroit Tigers Performance out of the Gate

Much like the Minnesota Twins, the Detroit Tigers are not where they expected to be a little over one week into regular season play. They had the spotlight on them opening day against the Yankees-only to struggle.

Whether it’s April or not, it is totally unacceptable for this team to lose back to back series against the likes of the Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals. These two clubs haven’t been relevant this millennium. The Texas Rangers are on the horizon and they look like the best team in the American League right now.

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Offseason Grading: The Detroit Tigers

The Tigers had two things that is the recipe for success on most teams. They had a power-hitter that also hits for average in Miguel Cabrera and the team had an ace in Justin Verlander.

So, what went wrong? Why did the team finish 81-81? Is Miguel Cabrera drinking an alcoholic beverage? These are all questions that need to be addressed.

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Detroit Tigers in First Place? Really?

rick-porcello1

By Paul M. Banks and Adam Musto

After finishing in last place in the American League Central Division in 2008 with a 74-88 record, the Detroit Tigers (28-23) are back in first place.

The last time the Tigers (picked to finish last by numerous “baseball experts”) won the division was 2006, when the team represented the American League in one of the least watched World Series of all-time. That autumn they fell to an 83-79 St. Louis Cardinals team in a Fall Classic best remembered for reliever Joel Zumaya’s pick off throw to third with no one covering the bag, prompting the always insightful and brilliant Tim McCarver to yell this stunning revelation “that was a bad play by Zumaya right there.”  Yep, Tiny Tim McCarver: always pointing out the intricacies and nuances of the game.

Moving on to today, this Tiger team’s success can completely be attributed to pitching. Detroit leads the AL with a 3.90 ERA, seven shutouts and 8/5 hits per nine innings pitched. They have allowed  the fewest hits (417) and runs (216) in the league. joel-zumaya-curtis-granderson-kelly-kelly1

Justin Verlander (6-2) currently is second in MLB with 90 strikeouts, one behind the San Francisco Giant’s Tim Lincecum. Starting pitcher Edwin Jackson (5-3) boasts a 2.30 ERA and has allowed 59 hits and 25 runs in 74.1 inninngs pitched with 57 strike outs. Starter Fredrick Alfred “Rick” Porcello III (born December 27, 1988) is a rookie sensation for the Detroit Tigers He is considered by many to be one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. The teenager was drafted #27 overall in the first round of the 2007 Draft. Rick Porcello will soon become a household name with his (6-4) record, 3.70 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 53 innings. Closer Fernando Rodney converted all 10 of his save opportunities into successful saves. Four other pitchers have had save opportunities, but have gone just 1-6. The ancient Todd Jones is no longer the Motor City’s closer and that’s a good thing for them; not good news for the rest of the AL Central.

As a team, Detroit ranks in the middle of all the pack in all the major offensive categories. Their lineup is mediocre but does feature a couple of standouts. First baseman Miguel Cabrera and center fielder Curtis Granderson have paced the Tigers offense. Cabrera is second in the AL batting .358 with 38 RBI, and T.F. North (SICA!) and UIC product Curtis Granderson has 13 homeruns, ranking sixth in the AL. Cabrera has also recorded 67 doubles with a .578 slugging percentage.
Detroit is 0-2 so far in June with consecutive losses to the Boston Red Sox and 4-6 over their last 10. Upcoming is a three game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Following that is five critical games against division rivals: the Chicago White Sox, including a double header on Monday, and the Minnesota Twins, who are both 3.5 games behind Detroit for first place in the division. O far Detroit is the only team in the Central that doesn’t look to be mediocre or worse.  Just two years ago, the AL Central was the toughest and deepest division in baseball, where 90 wins still left you home in October.

This year, it’s the weakest: and 84 wins might just grant you the title. Look for Minnesota and Chicago to be the Tigers main competitors down the stretch for the AL Central Division “crown” in ’09.