Wednesday Walewanders: Pre-Opening Day Tidbits

HotDogPopTicketDave Schoenfield, the new voice of ESPN.com’s SweetSpot Network today listed some of the worst Opening Day starters from 2001 to 2010.

Of particular note:

5. Mike Maroth, Tigers, 2003

As a rookie in 2002, Maroth had posted a 4.48 ERA in 21 starts and struck out an uninspiring 58 hitters in 128.2 innings. Among pitchers with at least 75 innings, that was the second-lowest strikeout rate in the American League. However, considering the ’02 Tigers had lost 106 games, that was good enough to draw the opener. The Tigers lost that game 3-1 on their way to a 1-17 start and 119 losses — 21 of them by Maroth.

I don’t know, on Opening Day 1996 Tigers fans were treated to the stylings of Felipe Lira. Against the Twins in Minneapolis, he lasted only three innings, surrendered eight hits and six earned runs. The Tigers lost 8-6 in Buddy Bell’s managerial debut. Lira finished that awful season at 6-14 with a 5.22 ERA.

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The past couple of years the Tigers swung some last-minute trades.

On March 30, 1991 the Tigers acquired catcher Andy Allanson from the Royals for catcher Jim Baxter. In 2009, they picked up outfielder Josh Anderson from the Braves for righty Rudy Darrow. And last year they dealt Nate Robertson to the Marlins for lefty Jay Voss — who hasn’t been heard of since.

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Happy 55th Birthday to Jack Lazorko, who appeared in three games for the 1986 Tigers.

Tigers Today: July 18, 2010

Can'tLook.jpgTigers’ Record:

48-41, 2nd place; 1.5 GB Chicago

Today’s Game

Tigers @ Indians | 1:05 p.m. ET – Progressive Field | On the air: FSD/AM 1270 and 97.1 FM

Pitching Matchup

Andy Oliver (0-3, 6.38 ERA) vs. RHP Jeanmar Gomez (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Yesterday’s Results

Game 1: Indians 4 – Tigers 3

Game 2: Indians 2 – Tigers 1

Continue reading “Tigers Today: July 18, 2010”

2009 Player Profile: Nate Robertson

The results of our most recent poll indicate that loyal Daily Fungo readers would prefer Dontrelle Willis (43%), Zach Miner (38%) or perhaps even Felipe Lira as the Tigers’ fifth starter over Nate Robertson (19%).

Nevertheless, we want to continue our series of player profiles today with The Nater for two reasons — actually three, I just thought of a third: First, he made more starts last season than either Miner or Willis. Second, I already had the profile written. Last, we’ll do our friend and avowed Nater Hater, Ian Casselberry, a favor and get it out of the way.

Nate Robertson #29

  • Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 225
  • 2008 Stats: 7-11, 6.35 ERA

RobertsonHead.jpgThe Tigers had no shortage of pitching frustrations in 2008 and one could argue that the most perplexing of all was Robertson. Once considered a core member of the rotation, the lefthander’s performance in ’08 raised questions about whether he could physically and mentally take his game to a higher level. In fact, Robertson’s season was so off-kilter that he found himself in the bullpen after a 5-8, 5.26 ERA first half.

Things improved little after the All Star Break and the 31-year-old enters 2009 as a major question mark. However, if any Tigers pitcher is likely to adopt the mantra of new pitching coach Rick Knapp – throw first-pitch strikes – it’s Robertson, who had above-league-average success in this area in ’08. (Nearly 60 percent of his initial offerings were strikes.)

A reversal of fortune for the Tigers in 2009 will be tied closely to Robertson’s ability to rediscover his command – especially his slider – and log quality starts. The club hopes an off-season exercise regimen designed to improve his flexibility will help him in the short and long term. Barring a Spring Training meltdown, expect him to return to the rotation in 2009 and to stay out of the bullpen.