Leyland: We need quicker outs!

Sometimes Jim Leyland will bring up a topic on his own without any prodding. His postgame remarks Sunday was one of those times, and given the pace of the last couple games, it stands to figure he wants quicker outs.

“A lot of our pitchers have to start getting some outs in earlier counts,” he said. “It’s something that we need to work on. We need to get more people to mishit the ball in earlier counts. You can’t go deep in couns on hitter after hitter.”

Leyland made a point to say he wasn’t looking at any pitcher in particular, but more the staff in general. But given the way the innings unfolded, he didn’t need to point fingers. Zach Miner threw a lot of pitches for two innings, including a full count that forced him to challenge Nate McLouth and pay for it with a three-run homer. Macay McBride had a long inning of work in the seventh. Justin Verlander had two walks on full-count pitches and a couple other full-count outs, including nearly losing Ryan Doumit after an 0-2 hole. Leyland, however, pointed to Sunday as progress for Verlander in his pitches and his pacing.

The problem with the deep counts, Leyland believes, is a matter of pitchers not having the pitch to finish off a hitter when they get ahead, and sometimes trying to be too fine. Remember, Leyland has talked for more than a year about needing to get more outs and deeper outings from his starters, and getting more outs in fewer pitches is part of it.

Other parting notes before this visit to Bradenton ends …

  • Not surprisingly, Ryan Perry said he was amped up for his first Spring Training outing, and it showed. But he also managed to get through it with two strikeouts and a broken-bat groundout. Both strikeouts came on sliders, including a particularly nasty one for a called third strike.
  • Curtis Granderson reached base safely in six of his last seven plate appearances before leaving for the World Baseball Classic. That includes a leadoff walk, a single and a solid home run to straightaway center Sunday. “He’ll be as ready as you can be at this point,” Leyland said.
  • Clay Rapada had a good 1-2-3 inning in the seventh. Tigers coaches are working with him on getting his breaking ball over to left-handed hitters, something they’re also working with Bobby Seay on doing. Rapada’s also making a point to refine his fastball command. Look for more on Rapada on the site later.


This is the same thing JL harped on all last year, so what has been accomplished so far in this regard? Obviously nothing. There were a large number of Tiger fans in chilly McKechnie Field today commenting on both Verlander’s and Miner’s rising pitch counts. Yeah, it’s that obvious.
The Miner-McLouth situation was interesting. One out and the runners had just adanced to 2nd and 3rd. In the regular season, the situation called for walking McLouth and trying to get a DP from the next hitter, catcher Doumit. Especially in a 3-2 count. I suppose we wanted to see how Miner would handle it since it’s spring training, and McLouth hit it out. Ballgame.
McKechnie Field is a good place to watch a ballgame. Good sightlines and very close to the action. The seats are pretty small, however, and you almost hated to make people get up to let you in or out of a row. I’d like to go back in the future and hopefully get a nicer day. Today’s weather was brutal. Think Michigan Stadium in November.
The funniest thing we saw today was in the team store. A t-shirt that said “Spring Training 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates Brandenton (sic) Florida.”

Thanks again Rich for you insights. I was thinking the same thing regarding Miner-McLouth situation. But it is really hard to follow what is going on at home. But I suppose you are right in that intentionally walking someone in spring training is not the point. Miner had a really rough outing. On the radio Price and Dickerson were commenting on how Miner wasn’t doing a good job of hiding his pitches (tipping his pitches) They said it very matter of factly halfway through the first inning he pitched.

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