Results tagged ‘ Brad Penny ’

Tigers rotation order just about set

We already knew that Justin Verlander would start the Division Series opener next Friday and a potential Game 5. Today, Jim Leyland told Tigers radio play-by-play broadcaster Dan Dickerson that Doug Fister will start Game 2, regardless of opponent. That has been confirmed. That would leave Max Scherzer to start Game 3.

The fourth starter hasn’t yet been revealed. Rick Porcello is set to pitch tomorrow and then stay on turn to pitch the regular-season finale Wednesday night. If that sticks, it would put Porcello in line for five days of rest before Game 4. Brad Penny’s final regular-season start is scheduled for Sunday.

That order will stick, Leyland said, regardless of who the Tigers play in the Division Series.

Talent versus experience

There are a lot of ways to measure how long this three-city, nine-game road trip has been. The weight of my suitcase is one. But here’s another: A week ago, on the first stop of this trip, there were two scouts from other American League teams who were following the Tigers, and suggested that if it was up them, they would put Brad Penny in Detroit’s postseason rotation over Rick Porcello. The reason they cited was experience, plus an abundance of left-handed hitters from a potential opponent.

With a week left in the regular season, it’s increasingly difficult to see it happening. His recent experience has been a challenge.

Five starts have passed since Penny outpitched David Price in Tampa Bay, paving the path for the Tigers to take three out of four from the Rays and establish themselves among the teams to watch in the league. It was a prime example how valuable Penny can be in a big situation. Since then, Penny has given up 31 runs, 23 earned, on 41 hits over 25 innings, bumping his ERA a half-run to 5.31 for the season.

He has had stretches where he has shown the ability to cover quality innings even when he hasn’t had his best stuff. That wasn’t the case Tuesday, when an aggressive Royals lineup never quite let him off the ropes.

Manager Jim Leyland said after the game that he gave Penny a shot against Eric Hosmer with two outs in the fourth inning in a situation when he might have otherwise gone to one of his lefty relievers.

“He could’ve come out of there at 4-0,” Leyland said, “but I wanted to put that little challenge out there for him. Normally, I would’ve brought in the lefty for Hosmer and Francoeur. Just find out.”

Hosmer went deep for a three-run homer and a 7-0 Royals lead.

Porcello hasn’t quite had the same stuff that helped him go 5-0 in July, but he has been a lot better than he was in August. He also pitched in a playoff atmosphere in 2009. He’s scheduled to start Friday against the Orioles with a streak of three straight quality starts going. Both Porcello and Penny have one more start left after that — Penny against the O’s on Sunday, Porcello possibly the season finale against the Indians next Wednesday. One would expect that by the latter, we’ll know the Tigers rotation and order for the Division Series.

The thing with Penny is that his use as a reliever is somewhat limited. He’s someone who has a lengthy warmup routine when he starts, and it would be difficult to give them that much time to warm up in a relief situation unless it’s a game coming out of a rain delay. That said, he has the level of experience nobody out there does.

Starting is Penny’s best shot at the postseason. Right now, he’s struggling to find that form that made him valuable in playoff-type matchups before. It’s not a situation to take lightly, because like many veterans, Penny weighed the market last winter for another shot at the postseason.

Friday: Tigers vs. Twins

Pretty much a standard lineup for the Tigers tonight. Magglio Ordonez is in because of his track record against the Twins.

Interesting comments this afternoon from manager Jim Leyland about Brad Penny. Leyland said he had talked to Penny about picking up the pace on the mound. He meant it from a standpoint of helping Penny pitch better, not necessarily keeping the defense on their toes.

“I talked to him in Cleveland about maybe picking up the pace a little bit to see if it helps,” Leyland said. “If it doesn’t work, it’ll be my fault. I don’t know if that’s going to happen or not, because I don’t know once a guy gets out there if he can do it. But I think sometimes the longer you take before you throw it again, sometimes you outthink yourself. Get it back, look in for the sign and throw it.

“Now, is it going to be that rapid of a pace? I can’t swear to that. But hopefully it’ll be a little quicker than it’s been. I don’t know if it’s going to help. We need him to pitch good tonight. If he has to take all day to pitch good, that’s fine with me.”


  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Magglio Ordonez, RF
  3. Delmon Young, LF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Wilson Betemit, 3B
  9. Ramon Santiago, 2B

P: Brad Penny


  1. Ben Revere, CF
  2. Trevor Plouffe, 2B
  3. Joe Mauer, C
  4. Jason Kubel, DH
  5. Danny Valencia, 3B
  6. Chris Parmelee, 1B
  7. Joe Benson, RF
  8. Rene Tosoni, LF
  9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS

P: Kevin Slowey

What to make of Penny, Martinez

Brad Penny and Victor Martinez have a failure to communicate (Getty Images)

The day the Tigers introduced newly-signed Brad Penny to local media on a conference call back in February, Penny went out of his way to praise Victor Martinez, with whom he had worked in Boston two years earlier:

“What I liked about Victor is he was never negative in any way,” Penny said. “If you’re struggling and he comes out to the mound and talks to you, it’s all positive. I mean, you can see he just knows you’re going to get out of it and do good. You can see it in his eyes. I mean, like I said before, what a great teammate. You guys are going to be really impressed with him as a person, not only as a player.”

On Thursday, after Penny gave up seven runs on nine hits over 3 1/3 innings, he was trying to defuse what became a very public disagreement between him and Martinez on the mound in the middle of his fourth and final inning.

“He hadn’t caught me in a while,” Penny said. “It had nothing to do with pitch selection or anything like that. With a runner on second, I like come set taking signs. That way, the hitter can’t look at second base and anything there. I’ve pitched my whole career that way and he didn’t want me to do it. I know there’s no other way for me. I guess it’s a habit. It’s natural. I’ve done it my whole career. It’s not that big of a deal. Me and Victor have been friends for a while now and that happens when you’re competing.

“It’s not that he wasn’t used to catching me. That had nothing to do with pitch selection or how I pitched today. It was totally the complete opposite of that. It was just when I was coming set taking signs.”

Martinez, for his part, wasn’t talking about it.

The calendar shows Penny has a point: Martinez hadn’t caught him since June 26 against Arizona. Alex Avila had caught Penny’s past four starts until Thursday. That said, pitchers and catchers have disagreements around baseball, and very few of them result in them yelling in each other’s direction.

There’s no sign of any escalating problem between Penny and Martinez, or Penny and anybody. But it seems entirely safe to read a frustrated Penny. If that back-and-forth didn’t show enough, Penny’s handing of the ball to Lloyd McClendon before he even reached the mound to make the pitching change two batters later probably did. He has taken a beating his last two starts, and Thursday’s loss saw him give up his second-highest total of extra-base hits this season. His ERA rose from 4.51 to 4.89.

Penny has had good and bad second-half numbers over the years, so there’s nothing consistent to read there. But his location issues over the last couple starts have been problematic. He had the time to work those out last start, and he eventually settled down to go seven innings. His problems in the fourth weren’t going to allow him that luxury this time. His frustration level Thursday was unlike anything he had shown all year.

No team chemistry problems have been obvious; in fact, Penny has been anything but isolated in the clubhouse. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how this incident plays out in his next few starts. The Tigers can’t catch Avila every game, and Martinez has caught Penny more than he has caught any other starter. If Martinez and Penny don’t work together for a while, he’ll have to catch Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello or the fifth starter, because Avila and Justin Verlander simply work together too well to break up.

Tigers rotation for opening week

As you probably already know, Jim Leyland said today that Phil Coke would be the extra starter moved to the bullpen for the start of the season until the Tigers need a fifth starter over the weekend of the first home series. Brad Penny will be the fourth starter.

What you might not remember, though, is how Penny’s starts now fit with the rest of the Tigers starters. So here’s a chart for the Tigers rotation:

March 31 (Opening Day) at Yankees: Justin Verlander
April 2 at Yankees: Brad Penny
April 3 at Yankees: Max Scherzer
April 4 at Orioles (O’s home opener): Rick Porcello
April 6 at Orioles: Justin Verlander
April 7 at Orioles: Brad Penny
April 8 vs. Royals (home opener): Max Scherzer
April 9 vs. Royals: Phil Coke
April 10 vs. Royals: Rick Porcello (presumably)

Brad Penny is going to pitch inside

The Tigers and Twins have enough history over the last few years that they have quite a rivalry going. Nothing that could happen in Spring Training is going to change that. It’s mid-March in Lakeland, the Twins have a travel roster, and the Tigers have plenty of things to figure out on their own to get ready for the season.

Brad Penny hasn’t even been a part of this rivalry, having never pitched in the AL Central. Still, it was tough to ignore just a little bit of competitiveness between Penny, who was trying to establish the inside part of the plate, and the Twins, who had two Major League hitters take pitches on the arm.
Young was hit up his left arm by a Penny pitch in the third inning and barely got to first base when he was replaced by a pinch-runner. No lengthy consultation with the trainer or anything. Young himself had a surprised look on his way into the dugout. With most teams, veteran hitters who make a long road trip in the Grapefruit League usually get to play most of the game, if not all nine innings, to justify the trip.
Alexi Casilla seemed a little riskier when he took a pitch around his right elbow. He also seemed quite motivated to steal second base, taking a big lead when Penny looked over and then taking off on his first pitch. Alex Avila’s throw in the dirt hit him on his left leg and bounced away, allowing him to take third and eventually score on Ben Revere’s triple.
When asked about taking Casilla out of the game, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters he was “disappointed.” 
From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
“Both of them could have continued playing if it was during the season,” Gardenhire said. “I was a little disappointed we got drilled there, so whatever.”
Penny said he was working on the inside part of the plate now to get his control going.
“I’m just trying to move their feet,” Penny said. “If I hit them, I hit them. I don’t want to miss over the plate.”
Don’t make too much of this particular deal. After all, we’ve seen pitchers retaliate for hit batters by hitting someone on the other team, even in spring training. Remember the Red Sox-Tigers fracas from a few years ago in Lakeland? Or Nate Cornejo hitting Ricky Ledee intentionally years ago in Clearwater, drawing a suspension for both himself and manager Alan Trammell?
Neither Gardenhire nor Twins pitchers and hitters those that route. And neither Young nor Castilla made any motion in Penny’s direction after being hit.

Leyland: Decision on rotation coming soon

Lost in the battles for the final bullpen spots and the second base job is the fact that the Tigers haven’t decided yet who will start the second game of the season or the last game in Baltimore before the home opener. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello already have their assignments, but Phil Coke and Brad Penny do not. One of them is expected to make those two starts, and the other will either be held back or work out of the bullpen for the first week of the season.

“Somebody’s going to be skipped a turn,” Jim Leyland said this morning. “That’s going to be worked out shortly.”
It’s a short-term decision made necessary by having two off-days in the first week. Once the Tigers get back to Detroit, they have a long stretch of games without an off-day, and the five starters will slot in turn. But the decision could have a big impact on the road trip and what kind of momentum they take home with them.
Coke (who starts today) and Penny (who starts Thursday against the Twins) have been starting back-to-back this spring, so you can’t make out anything from the pitching order. Penny would have to take an extra day of rest to fall in line for the March 2 game at Yankee Stadium. Coke would have two extra days, so he might throw an extra side session or something.

Penny goes three in camp game

Brad Penny settled down from a rough opening inning to get in his work for three innings in a Thursday morning camp game at Joker Marchant Stadium. It was his second spring outing.

The Tigers set up the game to allow Penny and Max Scherzer to get in their work on the same day. Scherzer started the regular game Thursday afternoon against the Braves at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex.

Penny fell a home run shy of allowing the cycle in his opening inning, including a Jamie Johnson triple into the right-field corner and a Daniel Fields double in the gap. He got out of it when Fields was thrown out at third, then avoided a leadoff double in the next inning when Avisail Garcia threw out Nick Castellanos trying to take second. From there, Penny retired five of his final six batters, and struck out four of them.

Penny threw 42 pitches, 34 of them for strikes, including all 12 pitches in his third and final inning.

Why Penny started over Scherzer Sunday

Checked around a little bit Monday morning, and the decision to swap Brad Penny with Max Scherzer in the pitching order Sunday was nothing serious. Turns out Penny takes a little more time to warm up in the bullpen than Scherzer — don’t know if it’s age, tempo or just deliberate things he needs to do when he warms. In any case, it made more sense to let Penny get the extra time to warm up before than the game than Scherzer, who can warm up relatively quickly for a starting pitcher.

It won’t be a question later in camp, when manager Jim Leyland gets his rotation order lined up for the season and decides who starts which day opening week.

Day 3 notes: Furbush makes early impression

Charlie Furbush didn’t come into camp with nearly the hype of fellow Tigers pitching prospects Jacob Turner and Andy Oliver. But he comes in with a massive strikeout total, a very deceptive delivery and a good reputation.

He has the manager’s attention.

“I’m real interested to see him,” manager Jim Leyland said Wednesday morning. “I got a very interesting report on him from somebody who’s not with the Tigers, how much progress he’s made in the last year or so.”

Leyland talked quite a bit about Furbush this morning — not really as a guy fighting to make the team out of this camp, but as one of the young starters trying to put himself in a position for an in-season call-up if injuries or other issues force the Tigers to dip into the farm system for another starter.

They are not looking at him at this point as a lefty reliever, Leyland indicated.

“I think we’re focusing on him as a starting pitcher,” Leyland said. “That’s what he’s been, and we’re thinking along those lines.”

If Furbush isn’t among the lefty relief candidates, that reduces the pool a bit. Daniel Schlereth is obviously a big part of it, as is long reliever Brad Thomas. The other lefties in camp include non-roster  guys Fu-Te Ni, Adam Wilk and John Bale.

But it also puts a little more depth into the Tigers’ starting ranks. Detroit’s insurance starters appeared limited to Oliver and Turner, barring a spot start or two from Thomas, but Leyland emphasized they have some depth.

“We think we’ve got more depth than a lot of people think we have,” Leyland said.

Other notes:

  • Leyland said he went into the weight room to get in a morning workout around 7 am. He found Brad Penny already into his workout. “He’s working his [tail] off,” Leyland said. “I went up to him and said, ‘You’re a young guy yet.'”
  • Justin Verlander said today he’s going to be tough on himself in his bullpen sessions and game outings this spring as he tries to get himself ready for his best form in April. Physically, his offseason and springs workouts haven’t been any different, but his mental preparation and focus are way different.
  • Brandon Inge isn’t in camp yet, but there’s a present waiting on his chair in the clubhouse. Somebody found one of his old chest protectors (it has his name on it) from his catching days and put it on there with a note: “Pudge wanted to make sure you had gear this year. Just in case!”
  • One good piece of news about Phil Coke’s conversion to starting: It should be a little safer for fans in the stands. One teammate suggested Coke led the Majors in long toss overthrows into the seats. Coke counted three fans he hit by accident.