My weekly take on the Tigers, also known simply and affectionately as “MMM.”
Week of 6/8-14: 4-4
This week: 6/16-18: at StL; 6/19-21: MIL
Goat of the Week
This week, we hand out the Goat dishonor as a group effort.
Who was it, exactly, who decided that Jeremy Bonderman was ready to pitch in the big leagues?
Bondo, who’s been recovering for about a year from major shoulder surgery, made his 2009 debut last Monday in the second game of a doubleheader in Chicago.
He wasn’t anywhere near big league caliber.
It wasn’t just his pitching line (4 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 3 HR). It was his velocity, too.
Bondo was nowhere near the low-to-mid-90s fastball that he’s accustomed to.
Sure enough, he’s back on the DL, as even the wild and wooly Dontrelle Willis is deemed a safer bet in the rotation right now.
The DL is of the 15-day variety, but Dr. James Andrews, the renowned surgeon for pitchers, has indicated to Bonderman and the Tigers that this stay may be of significant length.
Translation: he wasn’t ready to pitch in the bigs, after all.
Let’s just hope that last Monday’s start didn’t do any more long-term damage.
Hero of the Week
Rick Porcello, on Friday in Pittsburgh, was a one-man wrecking crew.
Seven innings pitched. Six hits and one run allowed.
Oh, and a couple hits and two knocks, too.
The Tigers won, 3-1. Porcello’s two ribbies were the difference.
Porcello had two singles in his big league debut as a hitter, driving in the Tigers’ first two runs.
The 20-year-old is now 7-4 with a fine 3.71 ERA. He’s walked a paltry 21 hitters in 68 innings.
Can you say “Rookie of the Year”?
Maybe the Silver Slugger, too, for pitchers.
They are among the top three, in terms of winning percentage, in interleague play since 2006. They have feasted on NL teams lately.
This week, a return to St. Louis, the Tigers’ Waterloo in the 2006 World Series.
All Cardinals talk starts and ends with Albert Pujols.
Pujols is at it again: 22 HR, 57 RBI, a .324 BA. His OPS (On Base Avg. plus Slugging Pct.) is a sick 1.131. And he’s only struck out 24 times in 219 AB.
Trouble is, the Cards aren’t getting much offense from anyone else. After Pujols, the next highest Cardinal in HR and RBI is Ryan Ludwick, with 9 and 31. Ludwick broke out in 2008 with 37 dingers and 113 RBI, plus a .299 BA.
The most reliable starter has been Adam Wainright, who’s 6-4 with a 3.49 ERA. He’ll likely start on Tuesday. Although, Chris Carpenter has a 1.59 ERA in 51 innings and is 4-1. But Carpenter missed about a month of the season, divided between April and May. Carpenter pitched on Sunday, so the Tigers will miss him in this series.
The closer is Ryan Franklin, who’s 15-for-16 in save opportunities and has a tiny 1.09 ERA. Franklin blew eight saves last year, but he’s been lights out in ‘09.
As for the Brewers, Prince Fielder is again leading the way, with 15 HR and 56 RBI. Mike Cameron and Ryan Braun have combined for 25 HR and 72 RBI.
41-year-old Trevor Hoffman has proven to be a terrific free agent signing--15-for-15 in saves with a microscopic ERA of 0.47.
In the Cardinals and Brewers, the Tigers play the top two teams in the NL Central; Milwaukee leads St. Louis by a half-game.
Under the microscope
I’m not sure that I like the new, powerful Curtis Granderson.
I think I prefer the “other” Granderson — the one who hit .300-ish and slapped triples all over the ballpark.
Granderson has 14 homers already, but his batting average has suffered; he’s muddling along in the .260 range. Not only that, but the triples that he’s become famous for have virtually disappeared.
Grandy has just two three-baggers this season, after producing 23 in 2007 and 13 in 2008.
He’s not even making it up with doubles; he has only seven in 247 AB, after averaging 32 the past three seasons.
So what’s up?
The home run stroke clearly is working, which has placed him fifth from time-to-time in the batting order. But it says here that Granderson is more valuable as the leadoff hitter he’s been since 2006.
MMM is placing Granderson under the microscope, especially as interleague play continues, to see whether the “old” Grandy returns while the Tigers play NL ball.
Bottom line: The Tigers took three of five in Chicago, which was huge for them–especially coming in a ballpark that has been less-than-friendly to them over the years. But that was partly nullified by dropping two of three to the feeble-hitting Pirates in Pittsburgh.
The Tigers continue to stay at arm’s length in first place, but there still seems to be a feeling of a missed chance to really put some daylight between them and the rest of the division, in which they are the only team playing .500 or better.
That’s all for this week’s MMM. Join me every Monday!