By: Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning
As much as a 5-game winning streak has perked up the Tigers and their fans … there is still one painful truth. Mike Pelfrey hasn’t contributed much. But many have.
In typical fashion, Kurt and Holly attack these questions independently without the knowledge of the other’s response, making for interesting contrasts. Take a look and see what our writers think about Pelfrey going forward as well as what Tiger made the biggest impact in April.
What should the Tigers’ strategy with Mike Pelfrey be going forward?
Al Avila’s $16 million move has yet to prove any of us wrong. It is so far proving to be his biggest blunder, the most questioned of all the moves that were made with the team this off season.
So what do the Tigers do? Well, for starters, injuries have restricted them from having to do anything. Injuries to both Daniel Norris and Shane Greene opened the door for the Tigers to give Michael Fulmer a start, which was very successful and bodes well for the Tigers’ future.
But when Norris and Green are ready, we will see where we are with Pelfrey. If he continues to struggle, it will be tough to continue to send him out there. He will be needed and still has value. But he must perform and may benefit from a bullpen stint if there is no improvement. A weak, ineffective link in the rotation will hold the team back in a very competitive division, so the best talent has to pitch.
It is way too early to extract Pelfrey from the starting rotation. No team has ever removed a starter being paid $16 million after pitching only 21 innings.
While Pelfrey’s performances certainly have some concerns, let’s also recognize that the Tigers lineup, until Sunday’s game, had given him zero, zip, nadda runs. And he did pitch a nice one, in which he lost, 1-0.
According to reports, 2016 is the year Pelfrey is supposed to be fully recovered from his surgery and I’ve got to assume the Tigers knew what they were doing as it was a group decision. As we’ve seen with JV and Anibal, it takes a while for a pitcher to regain his form after recovering from injury/surgery.
But while many are calling for his head, I’m of the belief that you can’t make a move until you have a solid solution in place – and that’s what the Tigers don’t have yet.
Michael Fulmer and Matt Boyd, while both very promising, don’t have that third necessary pitch yet in their arsenals. Daniel Norris has 5 pitches but just recently started pitching again and won’t be fully stretched out for a while yet. All three are part of the starting rotation future – just not part of the pre-All Star Game future.
Which player do you feel contributed the most to the Tigers’ month of April?
There are several who qualify; from VMart to Castellanos to Kinsler to Justin Wilson. They have all been very good. But the American League pitcher of the month, Jordan Zimmermann, has to win the prize.
Even though this question pleads for an everyday player, I have to go with my gut. There is something about an ace who can come in when the team is struggling and put an end to it all; time and time again. And in April we had that with Zimmermann. He was dominant and those 5 victories without a loss helped to keep this team above water.
Jordan said this is the best he has ever pitched. Well, I guess we will settle for his best. Because his best has been perfect so far.
I am really happy to have the ability to pick and choose among a number of players who contributed but in narrowing it down, I have to go with the one who helped the most with both bat and glove. And this is where it gets really tough.
While Jordan Zimmermann has been a god send, he only pitches every fifth day and for a similar reason, I also have to exclude relievers like the Wilson “twins” who have yet to give up a run.
VMart leads the team in RBIs but because this is a tough contest, I have to exclude him as well because he doesn’t play in the field. Miggy’s stats are now closer to the top, but he went through such a funk early on that I also have to take him out of consideration.
And it pains me to have to say “no” to Nick Castellanos who has been exceptional at the plate and much better at 3B – but not yet good enough with the glove to beat out other teammates.
So it comes down to Ian Kinsler and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Kinsler with his solid stats, leadership and exceptional glove that has bailed out every single starter multiple times. And Salty, who seamlessly stepped in for McCann, performed admirably behind the plate and leads the team in HRs and second in RBIs. Do I really have to choose just one?