5 Stats to Know from the Detroit Tigers’ 4-1 Win over the Chicago White Sox

  • Three

The number of hits by Tigers’ designated hitter Victor Martinez. After going yard against Chris Sale, this three-hit effort seems to have V-Mart trending in the right direction.

  • 1

The number of outs recorded by Tigers’ closer Joakim Soria in his eleventh save of the season. Soria struck out all four batters that he faced.

  • 116

The number of pitches seen by both teams. Fun fact.

  • 00

Kyle Lobstein’s ERA on the season. Justin Verlander’s rotation replacement has pitched well so far this season. This is good news for the Tigers given Shane Greene’s struggles and Verlander’s (soon-ish) return from the DL.

  • Two

The number of strikeouts by outfielder J.D. Martinez. The slugger’s averaged dropped to .220 after the game.

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Detroit Tigers: Success with Roster Turnover the Reason Team’s Championship Window isn’t Closing

Since the Detroit Tigers started their run of success, they’ve everyone will tell you some combination of these next seven statements about the Detroit Tigers.

  1. Their bullpen is dreadful.
  2. Their defense is bad too.
  3. They’re not built for the future.
  4. They’re top heavy.
  5. They spend money at a rate that isn’t sustainable.
  6. Their farm system is “barren”.
  7. They have no minor-league depth.
  8. The window is closing.

The first two statements are indicative of the team’s shortcomings over the past few years, but this season they are vastly improved. Detroit has solid a bridge to closer Joakim Soria consisting of Tom Gorzelanny, Joba Chamberlain and Alex Wilson. Additionally, Angel Nesbitt, who has pitched well as a rookie along with fellow youngster/flamethrower Bruce Rondon (once he returns from injury) will be vital bullpen cogs moving forward. Throw in rebound candidate Al Alburquerque (10.29 ERA at present, career 2.82 ERA entering the season) and you have a solid bullpen.

In terms of the defense, the additions of Anthony Gose and Yoenis Cespedes, coupled with the subtraction of Torii Hunter, the return of Jose Iglesias and the improvement of Nick Castellanos have left the Tigers with a strong defensive unit.

What’s significant about almost all of the aforementioned players is that general manager Dave Dombrowski brought them in an attempt to shore up the bullpen and defense. That’s been the Tigers model since their magical World Series run in 2006, reload and reshape.

The Tigers have gone from a team with a powerful lineup with no real weakness (2006) to one with the best rotation in baseball (2013), to this year’s team which excels at defense while still bringing the pop offensively.

They’ve been dependent on one major offseason acquisition/bat (Magglio Ordonez) before turning to another player brought in from outside the organization to lead the team (Miguel Cabrera).

They’ve also moved from one ace (Kenny Rogers) to another (Justin Verlander) before repeating the process again (Max Scherzer to David Price).

They’ve achieved all this with a perceived “weak” farm system. But regardless of prospects, the Tigers have continued to sustain success. They won their fourth straight AL Central title last season and are tied with the New York Mets for the best record in baseball over the course of the young season.

All good things have to come to an end, but Detroit’s window won’t be closing any time soon because of their ability to sustain success. They rarely deploy homegrown prospects, instead deciding to flip them into better, more established players. For as much as certain mainstream pundits like to go after the Tigers system, the belief is clearly not shared throughout the rest of the league. If it was, then the Tigers wouldn’t have been able to pull off trades for the likes of Price, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister. Throw in players like Devon Travis and Drew Smyly excelling elsewhere and the Tigers “system” doesn’t look quite as bad other writers make it out to be.

This continual roster reshaping/reloading has firmly jammed Detroit’s championship window open. They’ve continually dealt for top talent while bringing in replacements of equal value when that talent grows old, ineffective or too expensive.

Dombrowski turned Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson, both of whom were All-Stars in Detroit and the on the verge of massive contracts, into Scherzer and Austin Jackson. Scherzer would go on to win a Cy Young award in Detroit while establishing himself as one of baseball’s best. Jackson, on the other hand, provided stellar defense in centerfield before growing too pricey relative to his production. He was one of the key pieces in the Price trade.

Rick Porcello was also shipped out before he grew too expensive, he brought back Wilson as well as Yoenis Cespedes, who has provided good defense while hitting .310 and driving in the same number of runs as Cabrera (17).

All in all, the Tigers aren’t as fiscally irresponsible as you might think.

The Tigers are rarely on the side of the deal that yields prospects for one player thanks to a history of trading prospects. Recent acquisitions Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene have joined a lit that also includes the likes of Carlos Guillen, Jhonny Peralta, Jose Iglesias, Delmon Young and Soria. The most significant player traded in all of those deals? Avisail Garcia, who hit .244 for the White Sox last year.

Detroit has continued to tinker with their team while not being afraid to cut their losses if an experiment fails. Furthermore, the team isn’t afraid to make bold/unpopular moves to further success.

Jeff Baker was acquired by Detroit in August 2012 for the stretch run, but due to ineffectiveness, was traded before the month was out. The Tigers ate money to move on from Prince Fielder despite their being seven years left on his contract. Robbie Ray, the still-developing centerpiece of the Doug Fister debacle was moved in a three-team trade to bring in Greene.

Bringing in Greene and Simon to replace Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello is certainly bold, as is dealing fan-favorite Granderson and replacing him with an unproven Jackson. Even bolder is the decision to deal nearly every prospect of note in the system (at the time) for Cabrera.

However, the moves seem to have paid off. Scherzer was essentially replaced in kind by Price, so swapping out the now over-paid Porcello and Drew Smyly for the comparatively cheaper duo of Simon and Greene is a win considering how well Simon is pitching this year and the potential Greene has shown. If Cabrera continues his current career trajectory he’ll be discussed in the same discussion as Hank Aaron… so that trade worked.

The team will do whatever it takes to win, and continue winning. They mortgage their future by swapping out prospects for veterans. However, when that future comes, they simply trade excess players and more prospects for new parts in order to maintain success.

Pundits will tell you that the Tigers will decline and be a very bad team soon, but they’ve been saying that for a while now. The Detroit Tigers have perfected their model and stayed competitive for nearly the last decade. Who’s to say it won’t happen for another decade?

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All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

5 Stats from the Detroit Tigers 8-6 Win over the Cleveland Indians

  • Three

The number of runs driven in by Miguel Cabrera, who has continued his torrid start. Miggy went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored to raise his average to .377. Cabrera also went deep. Additionally, Rajai Davis scored three runs on three hits.

  • Two

The number of hits driven in by Ian Kinsler. The second baseman had two hits in four plate appearances. He had an RBI, scored two runs, stole a base and drew a walk.

  • Seven

The number of innings thrown by Kyle Lobstein in a winning effort. Justin Verlander’s rotation replacement allowed six hits and three runs (all earned) in his seven innings. He only walked two and struck out four. His ERA on the season is 3.50.

  • 86

The number of pitches required by Lobstein to pitch seven innings. It was an incredibly efficient day for Lobstein, who picked up his second win of the season.

  • One

The number of runs, hits and walks allowed by Joakim Soria. This broke a stretch of six straight games in which Soria had thrown perfect innings—a stretch that lasted two weeks.

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Detroit Tigers: Impact of Joe Nathan’s Injury

The Detroit Tigers are off to one of the best starts in Major League Baseball, but were hit with some bad news as it was announced that closer Joe Nathan will miss the rest of the season due to a UCL tear and a flexor pronator tear.

How it Impacts…

Joakim Soria

Soria is possibly the biggest benefactor in all of this. The two-time All-Star gets to remain in the closer role. He leads the majors in appearances, games finished and saves. Nathan’s injury also bodes well for Soria’s long-term future and his future in Detroit. Regardless of if he had success this season (pre injury), Joe Nathan wasn’t the long-term answer. At only 30-years-old, if Soria continues to pitch well (1.35 ERA, 0 walks, 2 total hits allowed) he could find himself in Detroit as the team’s closer of now and the future.

Bruce Rondon

When he returns healthy, it will be a golden opportunity for Rondon. The young flamethrower will likely assume Soria’s old role of set-up man/closer in waiting. This isn’t only an opportunity for Rondon to establish himself at the big league level, but also an opportunity to pick up some saves. Last season Joba Chamberlain, Phil Coke, Al Albuquerque, Ian Krol and Soria picked up saves despite Nathan being on the roster. Rondon could do the same. Additionally, in the off-chance that Soria struggles, Rondon would be in line for even more save opportunities.

The Tigers’ Plans at the Trade Deadline

It’s a little early to determine which teams will be buyers and which will be sellers, but Detroit may look to add another reliever. With Soria and (a hopefully healthy) Rondon in tow, the Tigers won’t be looking for a closer-type, but a buy-low or depth addition might provide helpful, especially if expendable players in the bullpen continue to struggle. An acquisition would probably be more along the lines of the Tigers re-signing Luke Putkonen then acquiring someone like Jason Grilli.

The Tigers’ Other Relievers

Thanks to Nathan not returning and occupying a spot in the bullpen it would seem that everyone will keep their spots—for now. This is good news for relievers like Ian Krol and Al Alburquerque, who have seen their ERAs rise thanks to poor outings. It’s also a spot of good news for Blaine Hardy, who was promoted when Nathan went on the disabled list. Hardy allowed a run, two walks and two hits in his last outing, actually lowering his ERA from 12.46 to 8.10.

Kyle Lobstein

Lobstein has only one career relief appearance, and the Tigers may opt to keep him stretched out as a starter in the minors once Justin Verlander returns. However, in the off-chance that the Tigers want to keep Lobstein around because he’s pitching well, this potentially opens up another opportunity for him.

The Tigers’ Non-25 Man Roster Relievers

This is good news in terms of more opportunities for pretty much all of the following—Alex Wilson, Josh Zeid, Melvin Mercedes, Putkonen, Kyle Ryan, Jose Valdez, etc.

Wilson, one of the relievers acquired in the Rick Porcello/Yoenis Cespedes swap, has an ERA of 0.00 and three saves on the season. Another offseason acquisition, reliever Zeid, has a save to go along with a 1.42 ERA.

Thanks to the severity of the injury, Nathan will move to the 60-day disabled list. This will open up a 40-man roster opportunity for a minor-league pitcher like Melvin Mercedes. Other Triple-A pitchers with major league experience like Rafael Dolis, Alberto Cabrera, Thad Weber and Mike Belfiore could also be in play if they can pitch successfully.

Ryan and Valdez, two pitchers already on the 40-man roster, are long shots, but could be in play. Ryan had success in relief last season, but the team may opt to keep him as a starter to provide depth in that area. Valdez wouldn’t require a roster move to call up, but the reliever’s ERA in 2015 is 6.75.

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All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

#Tigers Tweets: Shutouts, Nathan, Verlander, Disabled List

Here’s the latest Tweets regarding the Tigers.

This is good.

Looks like that’ll have to change…

Joakim Soria will get a chance to close again.

Taking Nathan’s spot on the roster is none other than Blaine Hardy.

Justin Verlander is also heading to the DL.

5 Stats from the Tigers’ Opening Day Win Over the Twins

Two

  • The number of hits each by Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Avila and Jose Iglesias. This is an extremely good sign considering the trio hit 6th, 8th and 9th in Brad Ausmus’ lineup. The trio also drove in a run (via a home run by Avila) and scored three runs.

Five

  • The number of hits allowed and strikeouts recorded by David Price. Price became the first pitcher in seven seasons to start Opening Day for the Tigers who wasn’t named Justin Verlander. The former Tampa Bay Ray delivered with a gem, producing 8.2 innings of shutout ball while limiting the Twins to a mere five hits. No Minnesota baserunner got past second base.

101

  • The number of pitches thrown by Price. More plaudits for Price as the ace was extremely efficient with his pitches, only needing 101 to reach the ninth inning. He was pulled in favor Joe Nathan for the last out of the game.

One

  • The number of hits by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. The recently injured duo went a combined 1-for-8 with a singular strikeout. These kinds of outing won’t happen often, but when they do, it is paramount that the bottom of the order step up. On Opening Day, the 7-8-9 hitters did. Avila and Iglesias had two hits apiece while Nick Castellanos drove in a run and drew a walk.

Three

  • The number of stolen bases by the Tigers. Injury returnee Jose Iglesias had two while leadoff hitter Rajai Davis added another. While off days from both Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez won’t happen often, expect this to happen a good deal. It’s worth noting that the team’s top speedster, Anthony Gose, didn’t play.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Detroit Tigers Twitter News: Roster Moves, Verlander, Spring Training Cuts

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reports that the Tigers are close to acquiring a reliever.

Despite that report, Tigers officials are singing a different tune. General manager Dave Dombrowski, per MLB.com’s Jason Beck,  says the Tigers aren’t actively pursing moves.

Dombrowski (this time via MLive.com’s Chris Iott) also responded to the rumor about the Tigers reportedly acquiring a reliever.

Iott also passed along the latest from manager Brad Ausmus who be “‘shocked'” if the team brought in another player.

Iott also mentions that the team sent pitchers Blaine Hardy and Kyle Ryan to Triple-A Toledo while reassigning infielder Josh Wilson.

Finally, Beck passes along the news that Justin Verlander and Bruce Rondon will start the season on the 15-day disabled list.

Detroit Tigers Links: David Price, Justin Verlander, Bullpen, Don Kelly

Here’s the latest from the Tigers:

  • David Price struggled during his last outing, but the Tigers aren’t concerned.
  • Justin Verlander could miss his first start of the season.
  • The bullpen is performing well ahead of the regular season starting.
  • James McCann feels blessed to make the Opening Day roster.
  • And finally, former Tiger Don Kelly has earned a roster spot with the Miami Marlins. Congrats Don!

Detroit Tigers Spring Training Links: Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Ausmus, Iglesias and Greene

Here’s the latest from the Tigers:

  • Jose Iglesias missed time due to a shin inury, but should be fine going forward.
  • Shane Greene was roughed up in his Tigers debut.
  • Justin Verlander is back to being his old self on the mound. I wrote about
  • Miguel Cabrera has been cleared to take grounders at first base.
  • Brad Ausmus seems to have found his way to Twitter.

And finally, Jack White was at the Tigers spring training facility.

 

Kingdome Crossover: Players the Seattle Mariners Could Have Drafted Instead of Danny Hultzen

The Seattle Mariners have made their fair share of blunders over the years, namely letting numerous players leave for little-to-no return.

This long, illustrious list includes the likes of Carlos Guillen, Jason Varitek, Rafael Soriano, Alex Rodriguez—you get the point.

The M’s missed a big opportunity in the first round of the 2011 draft.

Danny Hultzen was drafted third overall by Seattle and immediately became part of the “Big Three” pitching prospects along with James Paxton and Taijuan Walker. Hultzen showed immense potential, but has seen his career derailed by injuries.

The former first-round pick could still achieve the success he was projected to reach, but it will take time.

Hindsight is obviously 20-20 (stop me if you’ve heard that before), but the 2011 draft produced numerous first-round gems that the Mariners could have taken. Here are some of those players in order of draft position.

Dylan Bundy, Starting Pitcher: Baltimore Orioles, 4th Overall Pick

Bundy, only 22, made his major league debut in 2012. He made two relief appearances for the O’s, totaling an inning and two thirds.

However, the former fourth-overall shows the potential to be a front-line pitcher, if not an ace in the major leagues.

If nothing else, Bundy’s name appearing in trade rumors should speak to his value. According to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, Los Angeles wanted Bundy in a trade for Matt Kemp while Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reported in July that Boston was interested in Bundy in a potential Jon Lester trade.

Anthony Rendon, Third Baseman: Washington Nationals, 6th Overall Pick

In a draft class loaded with talented hitters, Rendon has shown the most polish early.

The third baseman, who has also experience at second base, hit .287 in 153 games. The infielder also scored a major-league high 111 runs. In addition, he swatted 23 home runs, drove in 83 runs and swiped 17 bases.

He would have trouble finding at-bats with Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager manning second and third, but teams can always use extra bats—especially quality ones like Rendon.

Archie Bradley, Starting Pitcher: Arizona Diamondbacks, 7th Overall Pick

Similar to Bundy, Bradley has future ace/front-line starter written all over him.

He’s been routinely ranked in the top ten prospects in the league and is probably on equal, and while his minor league numbers haven’t been overly impressive (4.45 ERA and a 1.506 WHIP in 18 minor league starts across three minor league levels) he still has a bright future.

Bradley is on similar or better footing than Taijuan Walker or James Paxton in terms of potential.

Francisco Lindor, Shortstop: Cleveland Indians, 8th Overall Pick

Lindor has skyrocketed through the minors and could be in Cleveland in the near future.

One of the top prospects in the game, Lindor is regarded as a top-notch defensive shortstop. He also managed a .273 batting average in 38 Triple-A, showing the potential to be more than simply a defensive wizard at the major league level.

His impending arrival also forced two-time All Star Asdrubal Cabrera out of Cleveland at the trade deadline. Incumbent shortstop Jose Ramirez could meet the same fate as Cabrera.

Javier Baez, Infielder: Chicago Cubs, 9th Overall Pick

Part of the Cubs’ first wave of impact prospects to make the majors, Baez shows tremendous upside. He has outstanding power and will drive in plenty of runs when he reaches his potential.

Baez can play either middle infield position and is part of a talented group of Cubs’ infielders that include Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo among others.

The infielder wouldn’t unseat Robinson Cano at second (duh), but he’d provide an upgrade over Chris Taylor and Brad Miller at shortstop.

Baez mashed 37 homers and drove in 111 runs in across multiple levels in the minor leagues in 2013.

George Springer, Outfielder: Houston Astros, 11th Overall Pick

While Rendon would have been blocked at multiple positions by the Cano and Seager, George Springer wouldn’t have been blocked in the outfield.

Part of the Astros’ next great team, Springer is a slugger in every sense of the word.

The outfielder swatted 20 home runs in a mere 78 games. He only hit .231 and struck out 114 games, but his power is undeniable.

Springer has a .303 career batting average in the minor leagues—or, in other words, he won’t be a .231 hitter forever. He’ll improve.

But instead of hitting bombs in Safeco Field as a member of the M’s, Springer will be hitting for the division rival Astros.

Jose Fernandez, Starting Pitcher: Miami Marlins, 14th Overall Pick

Jose Fernandez is one of the best starting pitchers in all of baseball—a fantastic accomplishment considering he was only drafted in 2011.

The 22-year-old Cuban took home Rookie of the Year and All-Star honors in his first season in 2013. Only Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright finished ahead of Fernandez in Cy Young voting that year.

The Marlins ace is one of the many exiting, young talents in Miami that have prompted the team to give Giancarlo Stanton a big contract and accelerate the rebuilding process so as to win as soon as possible.

Coming off of an injury shortened 2014, Fernandez will undoubtedly be Miami’s ace when he returns in 2015 and beyond.

Seattle is blessed in the pitching department with the likes of Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, but adding Fernandez certainly wouldn’t have hurt.

C.J. Cron, First Baseman: Los Angeles Angels Anaheim, 17th Overall Pick

Cron can flat out hit. He may not be as dynamic as teammate Mike Trout, but he provides the Angels with another young player to build around.

The first baseman owns a .290 career minor-league batting average and can drive the ball out of the park. He slugged 11 bombs in only 79 games in 2014 and has the potential to do much more.

With Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in decline, Cron will be counted on to help carry the Angels into the future. Don’t be surprised if Cron gets close to 40 home runs in a season at some point.

He would have been a nice fit at first base for the M’s.

Sonny Gray, Starting Pitcher: Oakland Athletics, 18th Overall Pick

While Bundy and Bradley are future aces, Gray (like Fernandez) is already there.

Gray has a 2.99 ERA in 283 innings pitched and posted a 3.2 WAR in 2014. That 3.2 WAR was higher than the likes of Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma and Anibal Sanchez.

Gray stepped in during his rookie season and started two playoff games for the A’s. Both times he went toe-to-toe with vintage Justin Verlander and didn’t blink, arguably pitching as well as the former Cy Young MVP.

Also like Fernandez, Gray would have been a nice addition to the M’s, but Seattle will have to settle for seeing him pitch against them a few times a year with Oakland.

Other Notable Names

In addition to the big names like Fernandez, Springer and Rendon, there were a plethora of players available later in the first round of the draft.

The Cardinals and Giants respective second baseman (Kolten Wong and Joe Panik) were taken 22nd and 29th overall. Jackie Bradley Jr. was taken with the 40th pick while fellow Red Sox youngsters, and current farmhands, Matt Barnes (19th), Henry Owens (36th) and Blake Swihart (26th) were also first-round picks.

While Danny Hultzen hasn’t reached the big leagues yet, the M’s clearly could have received more value out of all these players.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.comunless otherwise noted.

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