Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Vintage Verlander, slightly different approach

Justin Verlander built his reputation stepping up when the Tigers needed him, whether it was a winner-take-all game in Oakland or a rubber game in a regular-season series with the lineup struggling and the bullpen taxed. In that sense, Wednesday’s 2-1 Tigers win was vintage Verlander.

“I can’t count the number of times our bullpen was strapped over the years and Ver went out and gave us eight or nine innings that day,” pitching coach Jeff Jones said of Verlander’s eight innings of four-hit ball. “That’s what it was reminiscent of for me.”

In other ways, though, Wednesday was a step towards Verlander 2.0, both in what he threw and how he carried himself. The your-best-against-my-best Verlander was replaced by a pitcher who studied scouting reports, adjusted his game and attacked hitters’ soft spots.

“His preparation and focus the last couple of games has been outstanding,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “He’s really intensively looked into what hitters can and can’t hit and attacked them at what he thought was their weakest spots, especially when they’ve matched up on his spots.”

The power fastball at the letters became a slightly slower fastball spotted on the corners. The secondary pitches weren’t so secondary.

They’re also trying to emphasize location and execution over power. A mechanical tweak before his previous start at Boston created more movement on his fastball, making it more deceptive. It didn’t do much for power, but that wasn’t the intent.

“He’s thrown some pitches this year 96-97,” Jones said, “but what we’re talking about with him is there’s so many guys nowadays that throw that hard, especially coming out of bullpens, that hitters are more used to seeing that. Not that we don’t want him to step on the gas sometimes — he’s still going to — but we have to make sure that we maintain location to go with it. There’s so many guys that throw hard that hitters are more apt to put a good swing on a 97 mph fastball if it’s in a bad spot. I mean, [Curt] Casali hit a home run off a 100 mph fastball Monday.“

With command and movement, Verlander could throw a slower fastball and get some of the results he used to with the harder.

“I think it was a lot of the command and also, I think, some of the mechanical adjustments I made,” Verlander said. “I think guys weren’t seeing it as well.

Around the same time, Jones said they worked on his slider to get more movement.

“It’s a good pitch for him,” Jones said. “He’s still got a good curveball. He’s got a good change. And he got away from the slider because it was a little flat for a little while.”

The result wasn’t just the best outing of his season, but statistically one of the better outings of his career. His 10 strikeouts marked his first game in double digits since the regular-season finale in 2013, which was better known for Henderson Alvarez’s no-hitter, and his 29th double-digit strikeout game of his career.

Of those, however, Wednesday marked just the fifth time in Verlander’s career that he struck out double-digit batters without giving up a walk. The last was Sept. 24, 2010, the year before Verlander’s MVP season. He struck out at least 10 batters four times in 2011, three of them with one walk.

The 2011 Verlander had a presence on the mound, and an intimidation factor he valued. A mound visit often met a glare from a pitcher who didn’t like the interruption. On Wednesday, as Jones made that trek to the mound to talk about their strategy for Joey Butler, Verlander didn’t glare. He held up his glove over Jones’ mouth as he talked.

“You know, everybody’s always talking with their glove over their mouth,” Verlander said, “and he’s coming out there obviously talking about our scouting report against Butler so … I don’t know. Pitcher’s out there talking like this, catcher’s talking like this, and he’s just out there talking. It was funny. He laughed. We laughed about it after the inning, too.”

Said Jones: “That was a first. It was pretty funny, actually. As soon as he put it up there, I started laughing.”

Dombrowski: Tigers “rebooting,” will listen on trades

The long debate on the fate of the Tigers season appears to be over. Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski confirmed that they’ll look at trading their pending free-agents heading into Friday’s nonwaiver Trade Deadline.

“We look at it more as rebooting going into next year,” Dombrowski said Wednesday afternoon on his way out of Tropicana Field following Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Rays.

The decision puts All-Star pitcher David Price, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, closer Joakim Soria, outfielder Rajai Davis catcher Alex Avila all onto the market with about 48 hours to go. Price and Cespedes immediately become among the most coveted players available, while Soria and Davis become intriguing pieces added to the puzzle.

The Tigers’ win Wednesday halted a three-game losing streak, but did little to change the perception of their fall out of the thick of the playoff race. Detroit improved to 49-52, 12 ½ games behind the Royals in the American League Central. The Tigers stood four games behind Minnesota for the second AL Wild Card spot, pending the Twins’ result against Pittsburgh, but four other AL teams were between them, including Tampa Bay, Baltimore and now the White Sox.

“We’ll only make a trade if we think it makes sense for us,” Dombrowski said, “but it gives us a chance to maybe restock our club [after] some of the prospects that we traded away, get some people that will help us reboot and take it from there.”

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers at Rays

Brad Ausmus said before the game that he moved up Jose Iglesias to the second spot today just to try to shake things up, not as a long-term move. Iglesias might eventually become a two-hitter, but not now. That said, it would be interesting to see if a strong game kept him there for the short term.

Meanwhile, Alex Avila starts at first base, putting James McCann behind the plate for Justin Verlander rather than the usual Verlander-Avila battery.

The Rays put Tiger killer Curt Casali at DH for the day game after the night game. They called up catcher Bobby Wilson to fill David DeJesus’ roster spot for the day.

TIGERS (career numbers off Chris Archer)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (1-for-12, double, walk, 5 K’s)
  2. Jose Iglesias, SS (0-for-1, walk)
  3. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (2-for-3, double)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (1-for-6, 2 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (2-for-10, HR, 2 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-7, 2 K’s)
  7. Alex Avila, 1B (1-for-3, HR, 4 walks)
  8. James McCann, C
  9. Anthony Gose, CF (3-for-11, 4 K’s)

P: Justin Verlander

RAYS (career numbers vs. Verlander)

  1. John Jaso, LF (2-for-13, walk, 3 K’s)
  2. Steven Souza Jr., RF
  3. Evan Longoria, 3B (7-for-25, double, triple, HR, walk, 5 K’s)
  4. James Loney, 1B (2-for-4)
  5. Logan Forsythe, 2B
  6. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS (16-for-63, 5 doubles, 6 walks, 24 K’s)
  7. Curt Casali, DH
  8. Kevin Kiermaier, CF
  9. Rene Rivera, C (0-for-2, walk, 2 K’s)

P: Chris Archer

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers at Rays

  
Alex Avila is your first baseman of the night against Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi. The start keeps the David Price-James McCann battery together for the 14th time in Price’s last 15 starts since early May. The Rays’ lineup against Price, meanwhile, includes Brandon Guyer, whose RBI triple was the only hit off Price when the Rays faced him for the first time here last August.

TIGERS (career numbers off Odorizzi)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (1-for-4, K)
  2. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (1-for-6, walk, 3 K’s)
  3. Victor Martinez, DH (1-for-2, double, walk)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-3)
  5. Nick Castellanos, 3B (0-for-3)
  6. James McCann, C
  7. Alex Avila, 1B (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
  8. Jose Iglesias, SS (1-for-2)
  9. Anthony Gose, CF (2-for-5, double)

P: David Price

RAYS (numbers vs. Price)

  1. Brandon Guyer, LF (1-for-3, triple)
  2. Joey Butler, DH
  3. Evan Longoria, 3B (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
  4. Logan Forsythe, 1B (0-for-2, K)
  5. Steven Souza Jr., RF
  6. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS (3-for-15, double, walk, 3 K’s)
  7. Curt Casali, C (0-for-3, K)
  8. Tim Beckham, 2B
  9. Kevin Kiermaier, CF

P: Jake Odorizzi

Monday’s lineups: Tigers at Rays

Andrew Romine gets the start at first base tonight against Rays right-hander Nathan Karns. Former Tiger Curt Casali gets the start behind the plate for the Rays.

TIGERS

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  3. Victor Martinez, DH
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF
  5. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Jose Iglesias, SS
  8. Andrew Romine, 1B
  9. Anthony Gose, CF

P: Anibal Sanchez

RAYS (career numbers off Sanchez)

  1. John Jaso, DH (1-for-14, 4 walks, 2 K’s)
  2. David DeJesus, LF (2-for-3, double, walk)
  3. Evan Longoria, 3B (3-for-11, triple, walk, 2 K’s)
  4. James Loney, 1B (4-for-12, triple, walk, K)
  5. Logan Forsythe, 2B (2-for-5, HR)
  6. Steven Souza, RF
  7. Kevin Kiermaier, CF (1-for-2, triple)
  8. Tim Beckham, SS
  9. Curt Casali, C

P: Nathan Karns

Sunday night lineups: Tigers at Red Sox

Back after a couple days to find that the Tigers have shipped out first baseman Marc Krauss, optioned to Triple-A Toledo to make room for Kyle Ryan as an extra reliever (possibly spot starter if Alfredo Simon can’t make his next turn?). Krauss wouldn’t have started tonight anyway with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez going for Boston.

Rodriguez was the return the Red Sox received last July 31 for Andrew Miller, the lefty reliever the Tigers tried to acquire but couldn’t match Baltimore on prospects for. They’ll get a first-hand look at him tonight for the first time.

tigerslogoTIGERS

  1. Rajai Davis, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  3. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Jefry Marte, 1B
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

P: Shane Greene

redsoxlogoRED SOX (numbers off Greene)

  1. Mookie Betts, CF (1-for-2)
  2. Brock Holt, 2B (1-for-5)
  3. Xavier Bogaerts, SS (2-for-4, HR, K)
  4. David Ortiz, DH (1-for-4, walk, K)
  5. Hanley Ramirez, LF
  6. Alejandro De Aza, RF (1-for-6, 2 K’s)
  7. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
  8. Mike Napoli, 1B (1-for-1, HR, 3 walks)
  9. Blake Swihart, C

P: Eduardo Rodriguez

Price’s agent: “Hard to say I’m optimistic” about him staying

David Price’s agent, Bo McKinnis, has kept a very low profile all year about his client’s contract status and extension talks, preferring to keep any negotiations private. With Price’s name back in the rumor mill leading up Friday’s trade deadline, McKinnis appeared on MLB Network Radio Sunday morning with former MLB general managers Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette, and sounded less than optimistic about Price staying a Tiger — long term, or maybe even into August.

“When we got eight days from the deadline [that would be last Thursday], I had some folks that asked me my thoughts,” McKinnis said. “Then, I said I feel like if they were to go 5-3 in those eight, that Dombrowski would hang onto him. This team, he’s got a lot invested in it. It’s a solid club and hopefully Cabrera comes back here soon.

“Well, since I made that comment of them needing to go 5-3, they’ve actually gone 2-2, and it’s been against two last-place clubs. So it’s kind of hard to say I’m optimistic about us staying. Yet I have no doubt that Dave’s going to drag it to Thursday or Friday. If I was in his shoes, that’s what I would do, because this team was set up to win, and it’s just kind of hard to throw in the towel.”

McKinnis also responded to Bowden’s report that there hadn’t been an offer since Spring Training and indicated what many of us have felt since the season opened: The Tigers and Price have never been close enough on talks to justify Price forgoing free agency.

“To say we’ve had no talks would be incorrect. We have had talks,” McKinnis said. “It was just very evident that we were coming from different places in the very beginning. There’s no doubt the Tigers would like to keep him, and I do believe they’re going to make an effort to bring him back this winter. Now, that may or may not happen, but it was evident they wanted to keep him and we expressed a desire to stay as well. But we were just coming from two different positions from the very beginning, and the talks just never really took off from there.”

The expectation of him testing free agency was furthered when McKinnis was asked about granting a team trading for him a 48-hour window to try to negotiate a long-term deal.

“I try to never say never,” McKinnis said, “so I’m not going to give a blanket no to that, because you don’t know what’s going to be on the other end. They may offer us a billion dollars. You just never know. So I’m not going to say no to it.

“At the same time, With respect to David approaching free agency, the way he and I have viewed it, it’s as though he’s been running a marathon with all these one-year contracts, and we went into this season five-sixths of the way through the marathon. Now we’re even beyond that. We’re sitting here two months away from free agency. It’s kind of tough to not wait on that, but I’m not going to say it’s impossible to at least entertain something of that nature.”

Thursday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Mariners

lineups072315

James McCann gets the start behind the plate over Alex Avila today, even with right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma on the mound for Seattle. Brad Ausmus said McCann and David Price have worked well together in recent starts, including last time out, so he’s keeping the pair together.

tigers1901logoTIGERS (career numbers against Iwakuma)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (9-for-26, double, 3 HR, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
  2. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (11-for-27, 5 doubles, 4 HR, 7 K’s)
  3. Victor Martinez, DH (5-for-9, 2 HR, 2 walks)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-5, HR, 3 K’s)
  5. Nick Castellanos, 3B (3-for-5, double, HR, 2 K’s)
  6. Marc Krauss, 1B (2-for-6, HR, 2 K’s)
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Jose Iglesias, SS (2-for-7, 2 K’s)
  9. Anthony Gose, CF (1-for-4, triple, walk, K)

P: David Price

pilotslogoMARINERS (career numbers off Price)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (4-for-21, 2 doubles, 11 K’s)
  2. Kyle Seager, 3B (0-for-10, walk, 2 K’s)
  3. Nelson Cruz, DH (12-for-32, double, 4 HR, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
  4. Robinson Cano, 2B (18-for-67, 3 doubles, triple, HR, 3 walks, 7 K’s)
  5. Franklin Gutierrez, LF
  6. Mark Trumbo, RF (6-for-16, 2 doubles, HR, 5 K’s)
  7. Logan Morrison, 1B (2-for-6, double, K)
  8. Chris Taylor, SS (0-for-2, walk, K)
  9. Jesus Sucre, C

P: Hisashi Iwakuma

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Mariners

lineups072215

Jose Iglesias returns after missing last night’s game with illness. He joins a parade of right-handed hitters the Tigers will send up against Mariners lefty Mike Montgomery, who actually has held hitters from the right side to a lower average (.206) and OPS (.570) than he has left-handed hitters (.255 AVG, .721 OPS).

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

tigerroarlogo

TIGERS

  1. Rajai Davis, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  3. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Jefry Marte, 1B
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

P: Anibal Sanchez

marinerslogoMARINERS (career numbers off Sanchez)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (0-for-2, 2 K’s)
  2. Kyle Seager, 3B (1-for-7, double, 2 K’s)
  3. Nelson Cruz, RF (1-for-7, HR, 3 walks, K)
  4. Robinson Cano, 2B (3-for-14, double, K)
  5. Seth Smith, DH (9-for-24, double, 4 HR, 3 walks, 6 K’s)
  6. Mark Trumbo, 1B (5-for-15, double, 2 K’s)
  7. Dustin Ackley, LF (2-for-6, triple, HR, 2 K’s)
  8. Brad Miller, SS (0-for-1, 2 walks)
  9. Mike Zunino, C (0-for-1, 2 walks, K)

P: Mike Montgomery

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Mariners

The Mariners have lined up six left-handed hitters to face Shane Greene, who has allowed a .349 average and .993 OPS to left-handed batters this season. The Tigers, meanwhile, have a pretty standard lineup for Taijuan Walker except for Andrew Romine, who gets a start at shortstop in place of the ill Jose Iglesias.

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

tigers1957logoTIGERS (numbers off Walker)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (1-for-3, K)
  2. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (0-for-3, K)
  3. Victor Martinez, DH (1-for-3)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-3, double)
  5. Marc Krauss, 1B (2-for-4, double, HR, 2 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-2, HR)
  7. Alex Avila, C (1-for-2, HR, walk)
  8. Andrew Romine, SS
  9. Anthony Gose, CF (0-for-5, 2 K’s)

P: Shane Greene

oldseattlelogoMARINERS (career numbers vs. Greene)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Kyle Seager, 3B
  3. Nelson Cruz, DH (2-for-8, 5 K’s)
  4. Robinson Cano, 2B
  5. Seth Smith, RF
  6. Dustin Ackley, LF
  7. Brad Miller, SS
  8. Logan Morrison, 1B
  9. Mike Zunino, C

P: Taijuan Walker

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30,326 other followers