Season Series: First meeting of the year.
For the first time in a while the Dodgers will be facing a team that has some offense so will find out if our pitching has simply been feasting on lackluster offenses or if Chad/Ely/Kuroda are a fearsome threesome. Don't get me wrong these are not the Phillies but they can hit. They have the fourth best wOBA at .341, the fourth best slug at .415, and the fourth best wRC at 206. The offense is being lead by a legitimate stud in Miggy Cabrera but the other two offensive leaders Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch are doing their best ROY imitations. At one point this weekend the Tiger offense may have four rookies in it (Jackson, Boesch, Avila, and Worth).
The pitching is doing well, not great. They are either 3rd or 4th in ERA / FIP but an xFIP of 4.50 puts them squarely in the middle of the pack. The starters are not doing very well but the bullpen has the best ERA in the league at 2.50 with a large lead over 2nd place at 3.17.Most of the good work from the rotation has been done by Verlander and lately Bonderman but we will miss both of them.
Old Friends: None
1st Base-Miggy Cabrera Drunk or Sober one of the best hitters in baseball.
2nd Base-What's a Danny Worth? Just one of a plethora of young Tigers who populate this team. He did not make the baseball HQ top 15 prospect list. From Baseball HQ
He is an athletic infielder with fine defensive skills that can play at any position. He has played mostly 3B in '10, but was a regular shortstop in '09. His ideal position may be 2B where his average arm and plus range are best served. His tools play up due to his keen instincts, particularly in the field and on base. Worth possesses average speed, but can steal bases. His offensive upside is limited due to below average bat speed and minimal contact despite little pop. His career high in HR is 5 ('08). He's a career .245/.314/.344 hitter in the minors.
The word was that Carlos Guillen would take over 2nd base when he got off the DL but if that happens it will be brief as Guillen is sure to get hurt again. A few years ago Guillen was one of the better offensive shortstops in the game but his legs are shot, and his game has deteriorated to the point he's not a plus players no matter where they store him.
SS-Ramon Santiago or Adam Everett. Everett is still one of the weakest hitters in baseball, and is not the defensive whiz he was when he was an Astro.
3rd Base- Brandon Inge
Catcher - Gerald Laird, or Alex Avila. Laird just can't hit so Alex Avila is getting more and more playing time. Baseball HQ comments on the rookie:
Short and strong catcher with potential for above average offensive production. With a short stroke, ability to make contact and sound batting eye, he should hit for a moderately high BA. Still raw behind the plate and needs to improve his receiving, though he has a strong arm.
Right Field- Magglio Ordonez has earned his contract, and continues to rake to a turn of .331/.423/.488. Last year the Tigers may not have wanted his contract to vest but given his production this year they may not be complaining to much.
Center Field-ROY sensation Austin Jackson is having one hell of a start to his major league career but it is being fueled by a unsustainable BABIP over 40%. Still for the time being everything he hits is falling in and the Tigers have to be happy with his production. We should get a chance once again to see a young exciting center fielder for the opposition. Seems like baseball is full of these guys at the moment.
Left Field- Brennan Boesch literally came out of left field and has done nothing but hit since being called up to take the DL's Carlos Guillen spot. He's like our Ely, little expectation, huge production. Baseball HQ had this to say:
Tall and athletic outfielder led the EL in HR and vastly improved throughout the season. Established career-high in HR easily as he learned to use the entire field. Struggles with making contact and projects to a low BA. Average RF with a strong arm, but limited range.
At the moment in all of 44 at bats, he's got a TSL of .386/.413/.773. That will come down to earth soon and hopefully this weekend. Something has to give when Ely meets Boesch and one wonderkid comes up empty.
DH/OF: No DH, so it will be curious to see how they use Johnny Damon. He he might play LF but with Boesch so hot I'm not sure how it will play out. If Damon does play he still swings a potent bat carrying an .865 OPS into this series. Always one of my favorite players I'm glad he's not wearing pinstripes anymore. Just did not seem right.
One of Damon or Boesch, Santiago or Everett, Laird or Avila.
Starting Pitching for our Series:
Game One:Dontrelle Willis will find the NL just as uninviting as it was when it turned him into a basket case. Once upon a time the smiling LH was the eye of ESPN but he's a shell of that over hyped pitcher. Willis is finally striking out hitters again (7.16) but his walk rate is 6.06 as he does his best imitation of Oliver Perez.
Game Two: Armando Galarraga was recently called up to replace Max Scherzer and even with the struggles Scherzer has had as a Tiger, I'm glad we are not facing him. Armando pitched a good game in his 2010 debut last week but he's not a good pitcher.
Game Three: The 21 year old Rick Porcello is not having as easy a go in 2010 as he did in 2009. He's carrying a 5.93 ERA into the game but with a FIP of only 4.25. He does not strike out anyone (4.70) and he walks (3.27) enough that should be a problem.
An excellent bullpen so far with Valverde doing what he was hired to do. Joel Zumaya has bounced all the way back from numerous injuries to provide solid setup spurred by his 9.75 K/Rate. His FIP of 1.45 shows that his work is not a mirage. Phil Coke is the main LHP with Ryan Perry and Bonine doing the rest of the work. We should see alot of this bullpen and the Dodgers are very familiar with Valverde but hopefully we won't see him because the Tigers won't be saving any games.
Dodgers are facing three uninspiring pitching so while the Tigers can hit better then what we have seen I don't think they can pitch better then what we have seen. Missing Andre and Rafy, and with Manny questionable our own lineup will not scare anyone. Not sure how this will play out, Kemp and Loney have to step up, can they?