September 22nd, 2009

Tuesday: Tigers at Indians

Same left-handed lineup as it has been the last couple weeks. Interesting to note that Raburn is 1-for-7 off Laffey.

On the flip side, this will be the Tigers’ first look at Cleveland catching prospect Lou Marson, acquired in the Cliff Lee trade. He’s catching Laffey tonight, and he could catch Carlos Carrasco in the series finale, since he worked with him coming up through the Phillies system.

One thing I’ll be curious to see tonight is how the Tigers react to the change in intensity. They’re coming off three intense games against the Twins in a loud Metrodome, and they’re coming into a stadium that’s likely to be pretty quiet crowdwise. That’s an adjustment some players have noted in the past when going to Tampa Bay before last year. Of course, not having a roof is an adjustment they’ll be glad to make. This is actually a pretty good park for outfielders to see the ball.

TIGERS

  1. Raburn, LF
  2. Polanco, 2B
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Thames, DH
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Granderson, CF
  8. Laird, C
  9. Everett, SS

P: Edwin Jackson

INDIANS

  1. Michael Brantley, LF
  2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
  3. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
  4. Jhonny Peralta, 3B
  5. Travis Hafner, DH
  6. Matt LaPorta, 1B
  7. Luis Valbuena, 2B
  8. Lou Marson, C
  9. Trevor Crowe, CF

P: Aaron Laffey

Sizemore, Crosby earn Tigers minor league awards

Triple-A Toledo second baseman Scott Sizemore and Class A West Michigan left-hander Casey Crosby have been selected the Tigers' Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively. Sizemore, an All-Star Futures Game participant in July, batted .308 with 39 doubles, 17 home runs, 66 RBIs and 21 stolen bases between Toledo and Double-A Erie. Crosby went 10-4 with a 2.41 ERA for the Whitecaps, striking out 117 batters over 104 2/3 innings.

On Jackson and tipping pitches

jackson091709.jpgOne of the things pitching coach Rick Knapp mentioned Sunday that he and bullpen coach Jeff Jones were working on with Edwin Jackson in his morning side session was a quirk that they believed was tipping his slider, letting hitters know it was coming. But the thing is, it’s still a good enough pitch that hitters haven’t been pounding it. Really, they haven’t been swinging at it, and Knapp’s belief was that by knowing it was coming, hitters were taking it so that Jackson would fall behind in counts, or just not finish off hitters with two strikes.

It’s an interesting little twist on the pitch-tipping saga. A lot of times, you hear about it allowing hitters to attack a pitch. Alfredo Figaro went from a decent Major League debut against the Brewers in June to a pounding from Astros hitters a week later, some Tigers believed, because he was tipping pitches. In that case, the Gameday app showed Astros hitters pummeled Figaro’s breaking balls and offspeed pitches while laying off the fastball. A few years ago, the White Sox found something in Verlander’s mannerisms that tipped his pitches, and pounded his changeup.

In Jackson’s case, Royals and Blue Jays hitters generally went after his fastball his last two starts. Yet if you look at his pitch data, his ball-strike ratio wasn’t any different than usual, and he still got a high number of swings and misses, 12 of them from the Royals. However, it didn’t take looking at Gameday to notice Jackson was throwing fewer sliders. Leyland complained about it after the Royals outing. Jackson is throwing 25 percent sliders this year, according to fangraphs.com, compared with about 20 percent last season.

I don’t know what Jackson was doing to tip his slider; Knapp obviously isn’t going to say it. But I do know he had Jackson working on his mannerisms over and over leading into his delivery during his side session Sunday morning in the Metrodome. Will it make a difference? We’ll find out, but the question will be whether hitters swing more at his slider, not less.

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