The Top 10 Tigers Stories of 2008: #2 – The Pitching. Oh, the Pitching.

Number2.jpgIf we had to narrow the Tigers’ dismal 2008 to one culprit it would be the pitching. While Detroit’s offense had many fits and starts throughout the season, the pitching was pretty much the same from March 31 to Sept. 28: awful.

Whether it was Dontrelle Willis‘ sudden inability to throw strikes or Justin Verlander‘s season of wild inconsistency or merely the bullpen’s tendency to do just about everything wrong, the pitching was Public Enemy No. 1 at Comerica Park and 13 other American League parks (not to mention parks across the N.L. West).

One final look at the Tigers pitching woes:

  • Team ERA: 4.91 — 12th in A.L.; 27th in MLB
  • Strikeouts: 991 — 11th / 25th
  • Walks: 644 — 13th / 27th
  • Blown Saves: 26

Oh, what the hay, let’s take a quick look at how the rotation fared:

  • Verlander: 11-17, 4.84 ERA, one (and the Tigers’ only) complete game
  • Armando Galarraga: 13-7, 3.73
  • Kenny Rogers: 9-13, 5.70
  • Nate Robertson: 7-11, 6.35
  • Jeremy Bonderman: 3-4, 4.29
  • Willis: 0-2, 9.38

Yep. Ugly.

But thankfully the 2008 season — and soon this list — is over and done with.

A Bummer of an Outlook for the 2009 Tigers

ESPN.com’s trip through each MLB team’s roster continued today with write Jonah Keri‘s lens focused on the American League Central and the Tigers.

If you’re looking for a positive outlook to end your week, look elsewhere. Here’s a taste:

Aside from a younger, more athletic band of glove men, the Tigers need about a half-dozen new pitchers. Verlander and Galarraga figure to anchor a rotation that’s woefully shorthanded, with lefties Dontrelle Willis, Kenny Rogers and Nate Robertson turning into pumpkins and Jeremy Bonderman now more of a perennial injury risk than a future frontline starter. The bullpen is no better, with Todd Jones retired, Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney fighting to regain their lost command, and journeyman Aquilino Lopez the best of the 2008 bunch.

Now that hurts.

Catching Up on a Week of News

Catcher.jpgEvery time I sat down to write about a bit of Tigers news in the past five days, another shoe would drop and I’d think “I’ll write about both of those items.” Then another and another, etc.

So, as I wait out this Tigers/White Sox rain delay from bright, sunny Phoenix, it’s time to weigh in on:

  • Todd Jones’s Retirement. The decades-old joke in Detroit is that the most popular person in the city is the Lions’ backup QB and/or the Red Wings’ backup netminder. I think we can now add the Tigers’ setup man to that punch line. Detroit is unusually cruel to its closers. Less than a year after Willie Hernandez won the 1984 Cy Young and MVP awards, he started getting booed and it’s never stopped. Mike Henneman did too, but to a much smaller degree. The Tigers were so unwatchable during Todd Jones‘s first tour of duty in Detroit, that often he was the only bright spot. Come to think of it, he was a welcome sight then because it mean the Tigers were in line for a rare win.

    But what was it about Jones in his second stint as a Tiger? What made it so infuriating? Sure, he got 93 saves in just under three seasons but his ERA was always around four and … ah, what’s the use? Jones is a good guy and I’m sure he’ll be missed by his teammates. I guess. For me, though, I’ll never be able to forgive him for not being Joe Nathan.

    Continue reading “Catching Up on a Week of News”

Kenny Rogers Done for '08 – and Likely for Good

Just came across the ESPN wire:

“We’re not going to pitch Kenny. We shut him down for the rest of the season,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Monday. Leyland didn’t give a reason for his decision.

We all suspected that when Rogers was done he’d be done in a hurry. And that’s how it played out.

This team was a such house of cards. Who knew?

Game 140: Kenny's Cooked

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ESPN highlights available here.

The Score: Angels 7 – Tigers 1

The Gist: Well, Kenny Rogers certainly looks finished, doesn’t he? At least he lasted this long, which is more than can be said about his teammates who packed it in about six weeks ago. It wasn’t like watching Rick Ankiel lose it during the playoffs but this outing was painful enough. Rogers pitched two innings, faced a dozen hitters, allowed eight hits and six earned runs. At least he was democratic, giving his defense a chance to participate: he allowed no walks or strikeouts. If not for Curtis Granderson‘s eighth-inning homer, his 17th, you would be hard-pressed to confirm the Tigers even showed up for this one. Then again, the seven Angels runs had to come from somewhere.

Bonus Gist: Even with a modicum of luck, the Tigers can’t cash in:

With the Angels leading, 6-0, on their way to a 7-1 victory, home-plate umpire Tim Welke reset the count at 1-2 when the scoreboard showed 2-2 after consulting with Rodriguez and Tigers catcher Brandon Inge.

Rodriguez took two balls to take it to a 3-2 count officially — when he should have walked. He remained in the batter’s box, and on the next pitch, Tigers right-handed reliever Aquilino Lopez struck him out for the second out in the inning.

The Quote: “I’m really getting sick of seeing Aquilino Lopez,” Ian Casselberry in an IM exchange.

The Stat: 10. As in 10th place, the Tigers’ standing in the 14-team American League.

Up Next: Tigers @ Twins

Armando Galarraga (12-4, 3.17) vs. Francisco Liriano (4-3, 3.45)

Rogers Flunks Job Interview with Yankees

CrabbyTeacher.jpgWell, I’d guess that Kenny Rogers won’t be going to New York in a waiver deal in the next few days. Seems the Gambler is pointing a finger toward the Yankees as the main driver behind MLB’s insane instant replay implementation — with five weeks to go in the season.

Sayeth Rogers:

“I don’t know how [other] players feel about it, but as a pitcher, I don’t like it. I think that they overshot the mark by far just because in a Yankee game, I guess, somebody didn’t get a homer.”

Rogers is referring to a disputed home run during the Yankees’ win over the Orioles on May 21. Alex Rodriguez hit a home run that cleared the fence in right-center field, replays showed, but umpires ruled it a double after conferring.

“Please,” Rogers said. “It’s happened thousands of times. It’s part of the game. It’s the beauty of the game. I mean, mistakes are made. It’s not like anybody wants to make mistakes, especially the umpire. They’re doing the best they can, and that’s always enough. The best that they can do in the end is always enough. If it’s not [enough] for certain hierarchy or whatever, I think that’s a shame.”

As moribund as the Tigers are right now, I think this adds a little zing to the mix. Keep it coming, Kenny.

Game 130: Robertson Brilliant in Relief!

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The Score: Royals 7 – Tigers 3

The Gist: The Tigers got off to a fast start but the Royals decided not to lose their eighth straight on Sunday and scored seven unanswered runs off Tigers starter Kenny Rogers. Recently banished Nate Robertson pitched two-thirds of scoreless, hitless relief (huzzah!). Placido Polanco had three hits and two RBI and took a five-point edge over Magglio Ordonez for the team batting lead.

The Quote: “What should have been a good game for us turned into a not-so good game.” – Jim Leyland

The Stat: 8. The number of games under .500 that Rogers, Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman and Robertson find themselves. In contrast, Armando Galarraga is eight games over. Ugliness.

Up Next: Indians @ Tigers:

  • Monday: Armando Galarraga (12-4, 3.17) vs. Zach Jackson (0-0, 5.17)
  • Tuesday: Chris Lambert (0-0, -.–) vs. Cliff Lee (18-2, 2.43)
  • Wednesday: Justin Verlander (10-13, 4.42) vs. Fausto Carmona (6-5, 4.40)