Series Preview in Blog: Detroit Tigers (Round 3)

This post is also published at Stick and Ball Guy’s site. Stop by and check out what SBG Nation has to say.

Minnesota Twins (40-37) @ Detroit Tigers (46-31)

The Twins finished their short homestand with a win on Thursday to give them a series split with Toronto. They begin a 10-day, 11-game road trip with a weekend series against the Tigers. The Twins currently have an 18-17 record on the road. After this series, Minnesota heads into the All-Star break with four-games against the Yankees and four more against the White Sox. The Tigers found their four-game series against Texas shortened to three with a rainout on Wednesday. Before the rainout, the Tigers had lost the first two games, but they rebounded on Thursday to avoid a sweep behind a good outing from Kenny Rogers. Before this series the Tigers blew through the National League with an 8-1 road trip in interleague play. The Tigers are in the midst of a long homestand, as they have 12 games against the Rangers, Twins, Indians, and Red Sox. That will even things out a bit, as before the current homestand the Tigers had played 10 more games on the road than at home (19-16 record at Comerica). The Tigers currently stand in first place in the AL Central, one half game ahead of Cleveland, and six games ahead of the Twins. All things considered, it’s a good time to be a Tigers fan.

According to this guy, the Tigers have a couple of sure Hall of Famers in their lineup, and there are a few others who may get a look currently in the AL Central.

Detroit has been scoring runs at a very impressive pace so far this season. Coming into the season, the Tigers offense was believed to be pretty potent, but thus far they have surpassed all expectations. In fact, in addition to some impressive streaks, several players are on record-setting paces. It’s good to know that even with all the success, there are still some hitters that can be had.

Fortunately the Twins won’t have to worry about Gary Sheffield for two of the three games in this series.

The Tigers are throwing some successful pitchers at the Twins. The three Tigers starters have a record of 20-4 with a 3.25 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP in 33 starts. They have averaged 6 1/3 innings pitched per start.

The series opens with the marquee matchup, Johan Santana vs. Justin Verlander (9-2, 2.78). Verlander has only allowed four runs over his last four starts, which include two shutouts and one no-hitter, with all the requisite superstitions being observed. The Twins handed him one of his two losses in his shortest start this season back in April (3.0 IP, 5 R, 8 H, 0 SO).

Saturday afternoon Kevin Slowey will take on Andrew Miller (3-1, 2.70), who has four starts this season, all against the National League. Miller replaced Chad Durbin in the rotation, and even though he’s had some success so far (two starts with 0 runs allowed), people are pleading caution with his development.

Scott Baker will pitch the finale on Sunday night opposite Jeremy Bonderman (8-1, 3.90). Bonderman went 4-1 in June despite allowing 4 runs per start with an ERA of 4.99. Bonderman will be attempting to get back to a .500 record for his career, after a very rough start.

While the starting pitching has been solid, the bullpen has been the source of some gnashing of teeth. The Tigers have taken some steps to adress their issues, the aforementioned moving of Chad Durbin from the rotation to the bullpen, as well as the callup of Eulogio De La Cruz. In addition, Wilfredo Ledezma was traded to the Braves for Macay McBride. There is some debate as to whether this actually helped the Tigers very much.

Verlander taking the new guy under his wing (from Roar of the Tigers)

Todd Jones has been a target of a lot of the bullpen criticism, although he still has the manager’s confidence. And, really, his problems are all very simple, once they are properly explained.

That’s a lot of words about one bullpen. It might be simpler to understand the Tigers relief corps through some mind-altering drugs.

Finally, the Tigers recently traded Mike Maroth, who is, without a doubt, one of the classiest major leaguers out there. He suffered through the losing years and, because of injury, didn’t get to fully share in the successes of last year. Now this year he found himself the odd man out of a good rotation, but still took the time to thank Detroit fans on his blog (June 23rd entry). It hasn’t been decided who Maroth has been traded for, but here’s a novel approach to name the ever popular ‘player to be named later’.

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