Bullpen blues

It’s only Spring Training, but it was pretty amazing how quickly Friday’s game fell apart once Justin Verlander left the game. A leadoff error didn’t help Fernando Rodney in the eighth, but the ensuing single and double put him in major trouble. He settled down to retire the next three batters and keep the game tied, but as manager Jim Leyland pointed out, he could’ve used that earlier.

“When the horse got out of the barn, Rodney showed that everything’s fine,” Leyland said. “But in a 2-0 game, you’ve got to come in there [like that] right away. I’m just grateful and thankful that he did have it and show it, and that’s something that can be easily cured. But it was too late. The horse was out of the barn by the time he started throwing the ball.”

That’s four straight outings, including a camp game, in which Rodney has surrendered multiple runs after looking dominant for the first half of Spring Training. Total damage in that stretch: 12 runs, 11 earned, on 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings. Rodney had been working on a slider as a third pitch, which the Tigers had been encouraging last year, but expect to see a whole lot of fastballs and changeups from here on out.

Enter Brandon Lyon for the ninth, his first outing since giving up four consecutive homers to the Red Sox on Monday. He didn’t give up an extra base hit, but after a leadoff walk, two singles sufficed to end it. The only batter he retired was on a sacrifice bunt. He has given up multiple baserunners in six of his last seven outings.

Again, it’s Spring Training. But with Joel Zumaya now all but certain to stay back in Florida when the regular season starts, Rodney and Lyon are a little more important than if Zumaya was ready. What this means for Ryan Perry’s chances of making the team remain to be seen, but it could make for an interesting decision. Leyland pointed out Friday that he doesn’t have many decisions to make in the bullpen.

A few other notes before you go watch basketball …

  • Dontrelle Willis threw another side session today, according to Leyland, and had some encouraging results. He’s now set to follow Jeremy Bonderman on Sunday. How many innings or pitches, I don’t know.
  • Joel Zumaya will be pitching in a camp game Saturday afternoon. If you’re in the area and not going to Dunedin to watch the Tigers and Jays, the camp game supposedly starts at 1 p.m. ET.
  • Yes, I did notice Omar Infante at shortstop today.

5 Comments

“What this means for Ryan Perry’s chances of making the team remain to be seen”. Well, Jason, I think they’re pretty clear now. Perry has a spot to lose.
Still in camp:
Willis, Bloom, Rapada for one lefty job
Williamson, Perry and Zumaya for one late inning job
When Leyland cut Dolsi and Fien, two of his best options for the bullpen, he pretty much stamped Perry’s name on the roster, and he’ll be in the late innings also. With a finesse guy in Lyon closing, and Zoomer on the DL, it will be difficult to go with another softy in Rincon for a set up role.
Dombrowski has once again left the bullpen short handed this year, and there were plenty of inexpensive chances to fix it.

I missed the game, wish I could also miss the result!!! Why was Ramon replaced when the pressure was on? No offence but Dlugach should have been no where near the game with less than two weeks left of spring training.
We all know how fragile Rodney is and even DD & JL learned last year that you don’t compromise at SS. Or is this part of JL’s ongoing insight that Ramon doesn’t have enough stamina??

Actually, no, Joel Zumaya’s setbacks pretty much gave Perry a spot to lose. The term I should’ve written for the effect Rodney and Lyon have on Perry is what kind of situations he might pitch in. But considering Rincon is hitting 92-93 mph lately on a fastball with cutting action, I’d hesitate to call him a soft-tosser.

Some good ponts and comments re the pitching situation have been made here. The bullpen seems to be pretty much determined but the the roles certainly are in flux.
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I could see Perry taking over the set-up role to relieve the pressure of that assignment from Rodney. Rodney might be better in a pre set-up role IMO.
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Rincon could also handle that set-up role but the real question is WHO IS THE CLOSER? Lyon is going to give us fits. He gets the ball over the plate but still will approach a 2.0 WHIP and unless he gets batters to hit the ball in the dirt (which I don’t know that he can)–we’re in trouble. Rincon has never been a closer, Rodney will never be a closer and Perry is untested. Zumaya is still an experiment., and Fien in in Toledo. Williamson has “been there; done that”, but the the emphasis is on “been & done”
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I agree that DD missed solving a critical piece of the problem this off-season by not going hard after Putz or Wood. Lyon was feeble attempt at a compromise to placate the fans. Another cost-saver “hope & dream” acquisition. I hope I am dreadfully wrong about him but I see this developing into a very frustrating and demoralizing situtation for the starting rotation.
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This is close to a very good team but in order to achieve this they absolutely need to define the bullpen. If this means a block-buster trade then they should do it.

http://www.isracast.com/article.aspx?ID=45

Interesting article on blood tests for anxiety disorders. I had never heard of such a thing. Willis’s woes may benefit others who learn about this test from his situation.

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