Game 40: Long day of travel, night of short bullpen

The Tigers already had one factor going against them in Cleveland by the time they left Boston, even though Brad Ausmus didn’t want to use it as a reason why they lost.

“It’s not an ideal situation,” Ausmus said after the 5-4 loss. “It’s not an excuse.”

At the same time, however, the decision to keep Robbie Ray around as an extra starter for the week apparently played some factor. It certainly played into Ausmus’ bullpen decisions once Drew Smyly was done after 110 pitches and five innings.

The ripple effect from Smyly’s five walks over five innings led to Phil Coke entering in the sixth. The Tigers’ temporary six-man bullpen led to Ausmus sticking with Coke for the seventh.

“We’re kind of shorthanded in the pen, so we needed a couple innings out of Phil there, which he gave us,” Ausmus said. “It wasn’t really a strategic move in that sense to keep their bats on the bench. We had to be prepared in case the game went extra innings.”

The Indians had David Murphy and Lonnie Chisenhall on their bench when rookie Jesus Aguilar came up with a runner on third and one out in the seventh. Coke put Aguilar in an 0-2 hole, then threw an offspeed pitch up and well out of the zone that Aguilar fouled off.

That, Coke said, was actually a mistake pitch, not a chase pitch. The pitch that followed, a fastball up that Aguilar lined to center for a go-ahead sacrifice fly, was not a mistake. The intention for that one was to get Aguilar to chase.

“The fastball up was right where we wanted to throw it,” Coke said. “That was the plan. That was what we talked about. Threw it where we wanted to. Good piece of hitting on his part. I can’t stress that part enough. He got enough of the barrel to it to get it out there far enough.”

From there, it was pretty much single innings apiece — Ian Krol for the eighth, Joba Chamberlain for the ninth, Al Alburquerque for the 10th.

“He was available to go an inning,” Ausmus said of Alburquerque, “but that would have been it for him. He did throw an inning and a third yesterday.”

Joe Nathan was presumably going to be the last in line unless the Tigers took a lead. Take him out of the equation, and then the only reliever left for a tie game in the 11th was Evan Reed.

That’s how the Tigers bullpen is going to be the rest of this series, which makes a deep start by Justin Verlander vital for their chances Tuesday. As easy as that would seem for him, he used up 110 pitches over six innings in his last start Wednesday at Baltimore.

Well beyond that, however, the Tigers are going to have to watch their setup relievers. Twenty-eight relievers have made 20 or more appearances in the American League so far this season, and the Tigers have three of them. They certainly have company — Cleveland has four relievers with 21 or more appearances, while the Rays have four with 20 each — but the Tigers have a much stronger rotation, and they’ve played fewer games than any other team in the league. They’re getting results, but the Tigers will have to avoid wearing them down too much before the stretch run, even before Joel Hanrahan adds some depth.

34 Comments

I noticed the overuse of relievers too. It will come back to bite them in the butt…it always does. The starters have got to go farther especially Verlander and Scherzer, Anibal is also capable.

Starters are going deep,even Porcello. 6.1 IP /GS . League average : 5.8
Verlander 6.7, 7 QS, Porcello ( 6 QS) and Scherzer ( 8 QS) 6.6

Not really 7 or 8 innings going deep other than Verlander it’s not getting there most of the time

Scherzers outings. 8, 7, 5 , 7, 6, 6, 8, 6, 6 innings
Porcellos outings. 6.2, 6.1, 7, 5, 7, 6.2, 6, 8 innings
Ray’s outings. 5.1, 6. Innings
Smyly’s outings. 6, 7, 5.1, 6, 5. Innings. ( not counting early season in pen)
Sanchez’s outings 4, 5, 5, 6.1, 5. Innings ( not counting when he left injured)

Verlanders outings. 6, 6, 8, 7, 5, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, innings

More 6 innings or less up there than 7 and above.

Scherzer while pitching good someone needs to tell Mr. Cy Young high paid aces need to go better than 6 innings consistently 5 of his 9 outings he hasn’t gone past six might be considered quality start, but that leads to an overused pen. Sanchez is also a glaring lack of depth in his starts

If my math is correct

My first thought after reading the reasons for sending Miller to AAA was: why not JD Martinez.? Better go shorter in the field than the bullpen

position players

When you go on a 15-3 run and win many of those games by 3 runs or less, the key pieces of your bullpen are going to be taxed because you are protecting leads. If Brad had used Coke or Miller in the 7th or 8th inning in one of those close games instead of Krol, AlAl, or Joba, people would have screamed for his head. The key is the Tigers are putting wins in the bank at a time when in years past, they have just treaded water. They need one more guy to step up as reliable that Brad can interchange. Reed is trying to be that guy and maybe it will be Hanrahan. Sanchez was on a pitch count on Sunday and Smyly was not good yesterday and that is how a bullpen can get in trouble in a hurry. Thank goodness, RP gave them 8 on Saturday. JV needs to be an ace tonight and pitch to contact. I will take a lower K game for him if it means getting through 7 or 8.
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The key guys have been overused; but not out of irresponsibility. But by necessity.
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27-13 at the quarter pole, We could not have asked for a better start than that.
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Go Tigers.
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— Bob

Granted Smyly was not very good last nite everyone is going to have one of those days. The starters have to go longer/more innings in the games. Not just JV pitching to contact but the also the rest of the starting staff. The starters and also the pen has to learn how to pitch their pitches not the other way around.

My point necessity because starters in general are getting their pitch counts driven up early.

Fortunately the starters don’t get knocked out early either.
The strangest thing I saw last night was catcher/1stbaseman/3rdbaseman Santana trying to turn the DP at 2ndbase.
The shift on Cabrera “worked” in that it kept him to a leadoff single. Don’t know if that was Tito’s goal there.

Last night’s opener was likely Smyly’s poorest effort to date with 5 BB’s and high pitch count through 5 IP. Let’s hope JV is on tonight and they score some runs for him early. Miggy is starting to heat up, 3 for 5 and pushing VMart for league lead in BA.

Why is Thursday’s game a 1:08 start?

must protect those 5 golden arms in the rotation and the closer at all cost. if the rest of the bullpen gets overworked, so be it. can always shuttle a fresh arm in from Toledo if needed. priority #1 is keeping those 6 most important pitchers ready when their turn comes.

Yep, it’s a long season. These guys have pitched until darn near Halloween for three years in a row and they’re going for a fourth. It’s still mid-May. Keep ’em all fresh, Brad.

Any bullpen with Phil Coke in it leaves a little to be desired.

i think most clubs have a guy just like Coke…a struggling vet trying to recapture past successes. not a situation unique to this team. the variable is on how much time each organization gives the player to ‘figure it out.’

Assumed Coke would be gone to Toledo . They are going to have to watch every pitch he throws .

Terry Pluto in a ‘conversation with himself’ laments the Indians’ lousy defense. they are averaging an error a game. Swisher has 6 at 1b, catcher Gomes has 9, the combo of Santana/Chisenhall at 3b has made 9. 28 unearned runs given away.

league average is 16 unearned runs and 28 errors. Tigers have given 12 unearned runs, 24 errors. Indians 28 unearned runs, 45 errors.

I would suggest that the problem in the bullpen last night was far more to do with pitch selection than overwork. Alex Avila plays a part in this as well.
It is a loss in a game that we were fortunate to be “in”. The game, especially after the road story in Boston, had trouble written all over it.
It will be interesting to see how JV throws today. Who would think that half the other pitchers in the league now throw harder than he does.

The bullpen gave up 2 runs in 5 innings last night, and gave the team a chance to win.

Those facts are true but that does not change the pitch selection. I don’t think it matters much what Phil throws but AlAl? yes, I do. Three sliders in a row to a talented LHB sitting on one? We were due to lose a game and it is not in any way a crisis situation–i’m just saying that things could have worked out differently.
The bullpen has been good lately. But DD can’t get complacent about it either. Coke is unreliable and I think we have been pretty lucky with Reed

I think it may have been five sliders in a row to Brantley, the only really dangerous hitter in their lineup. Why give him anything at all? Al has been doing better throwing more fastballs but they got into a rut there.
Yeah, Coke has always been unreliable. If lefties that throw in the mid-90s are so valued, why don’t they try to trade him? I’m not yet sure which direction Reed may go. He does have good stuff.

Drew signed by BoSox

good

Now we don’t have to hear about any speculation anymore.

STARTING LINEUPS
(Statistics vs. opposing starter in parentheses)
Detroit Tigers
1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Torii Hunter, RF
3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
4. Victor Martinez, DH
5. Austin Jackson, CF
6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
7. Alex Avila, C
8. Danny Worth, SS
9. Rajai Davis, LF

Drew signed at same salary as QO. $10m for remainder of season. So that was a big waste of time and money for him. What a business.

They don’t call Scott Boras the best agent in the business for nothing, folks.

sounds like the worst to me dude – guy looks like a total prick when he could have just taken the offer in the 1st place

Read what I wrote carefully………..

Should have just walked Brantley last night

The pitch selection problem last night wasn’t the pitch to Brantley it was the fastballs thrown to Aguilar by Smyly and Coke. He had struckout twice on breaking balls and they started throwing him fastballs which he turned into 2 RBI which was the difference in the game. Tigers should have won 4-2 in 9 innings. AlAl wouldn’t of pitched.

Yeah–them too!

So much for a long outing…….boy same thing different day. Already annoyed. He’s throwing more balls than strikes. Hope Jones waits to go out there till it’s too late.

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