Monday Morning Manager: My Weekly Take on the Detroit Tigers

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Monday Morning Manager: My Weekly Take on the Detroit Tigers
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(please take a moment to answer the accompanying poll re: MMM; thanks!)

 

Last Week: 3-3
This Week: at SEA (5/25-26); OAK (5/28-30)

So what happened?

The Tigers’ mastery over National League teams took a bit of a hit. 

Since 2006 especially, the Tigers have done amazingly well in interleague play. They’ve treated NL teams like redheaded stepchildren, annually.

But the magic ended in Los Angeles over the weekend, where the Dodgers took two of three from the Tigers. Included in the trio of games was another Dontrelle Willis implosion.

Overshadowing the games, to a degree, was the tragic news of the death of former big league pitcher Jose Lima, dead of an apparent heart attack Sunday morning at age 37.

It was morbidly fitting that Lima should pass away when he did, with the Tigers in L.A. to play the Dodgers—both former teams of Lima’s.

The news was even more shocking considering that Lima attended Friday’s Tigers-Dodgers game and was acknowledged with a big ovation between innings.

On the field, the Tigers got washed out on Monday, lost to the White Sox on Tuesday, and steamrolled over the A’s in Oakland on Wednesday and Thursday. Justin Verlander and Jeremy Bonderman led the way, each pitching magnificently.

Then came the speed bump at Dodger Stadium.

Hero of the Week

If Bonderman is back, the Tigers will be in the hunt with the Minnesota Twins for AL Central supremacy all summer.

That’s not to put all the pressure on Bondo, but a healthy, productive Bonderman makes the Tigers’ rotation immensely better.

Seeing Verlander and Bonderman be wet blankets to the A’s offense on back-to-back days was heartwarming—evoking memories of 2006.

You expect great things from JV, but Bonderman has been another story, coming back from surgery and rehabilitation on his right arm/shoulder.

Bondo went six innings, giving up just three hits and one run. He struck out eight.

Bonderman is now 2-2 on the season with a very acceptable 4.43 ERA. He has 37 Ks in just over 40 innings. Opponents are hitting just .239 against him. He’s only surrendered two homers all season.

He might—just might—be back.

Whether he’s back or not, Bonderman is MMM’s Hero for last week, mainly because of the hope his season is providing.

He’s the world’s oldest 27-year-old. The goal is for him to be a young 28.

 


Goat of the Week

I Twittered shortly after Dontrelle Willis’s outing in Los Angeles ended.

“It’s like watching a car crash in slow motion,” I rapped out.

This is simply what we’ll have to expect from the D-Train every five days: smooth sailing, and then sudden horror.

Willis was holding his own against the Dodgers on Friday night, shutting them out, when his wildness reared its head in the fourth and fifth innings.

Suddenly, batters were being walked and hit, and three runs crossed the plate. The Dodgers never looked back after that.

Watching Dontrelle Willis pitch is like turning the crank on a giant Jack-in-the-Box; you know the scary clown head is going to pop up—you just don’t know when.

 

Upcoming: Mariners, A’s

I think MLB should make the Tigers honorary members of the Wild West.

Seems like the only teams they play anymore are from up and down the Pacific Coast.

If you’re not sick of the Mariners and A’s by now, you will be by the end of this week.

The Tigers’ foray against teams who play three hours behind them continues this week.

The Mariners will be first up, in Seattle—already the Tigers’ second visit to the Emerald City this season, and it’s not yet Memorial Day.

The Tigers will have to go at it with the M’s minus All-World first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who will be with his wife for the birth of their next child. This means Ryan Raburn will likely play 1B.

Who will bat cleanup? I suspect Magglio Ordonez will, with someone like Raburn moving up to third in the order.

Cabrera will be back in time for the holiday weekend, when the A’s visit for four games.

But back to the Mariners.

At first blush, it would appear that RF Ichiro Suzuki is having another Ichiro-type year. He’s batting .354, after all.

But Ichiro has only scored 21 runs, and he’s already been caught stealing six times—after being caught just 13 times in 2008 and 2009 combined. He has just nine RBI, which for even him is low.

Still, he’s the king of the multi-hit game, and despite what I just quoted, I don’t relish it when he’s in the batter’s box.

The A’s have a popgun offense that was totally overpowered by Verlander and Bonderman last week. They’ll see them again on Sunday and Monday, if the rotation holds as is.

 

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

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