By: Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning
It’s Tuesday, so two topics will be tackled by our writers. With the season closing in on its final weeks, a lot will have to go right to keep the Tigers in the thick of things. That includes on the field, in the dugout and in the front office.
Our writers will answer 2 questions; one pertaining to a starting pitching decision and one on clutch hitting.
Remember, Kurt and Holly do not share their answers. So, it will be interesting to see the range of perspectives. So let’s get on with it.
Is Miggy the hitter you want at the plate in the clutch when the team is behind or is there someone else you have more faith in?
As much as Miggy has failed in the clutch this year, he is the guy I want at the plate. As much as he has ended rallies with double play balls, I will put my money on him.
He isn’t having his most dominant season but he has had spurts that have carried this team. What we haven’t had are many spurts where the complete middle of the lineup is hitting together; a key for a lot of the offensive inconsistency.
You see different faces of Miggy. Sometimes he seems to be elsewhere and other times where he is completely focused and in-tune with the pitcher. Miggy always seems to win those battles.
So sorry folks, you would be foolish, especially if the Tigers manage to make the playoffs, not to choose Miggy as the Tiger to bat in the most critical of circumstances. I don’t care what this year’s numbers say, and in other baseball cities, fans may laugh at the fact that we are even having this discussion. Remember who on earth we are talking about here – Miguel Cabrera!
If we define clutch as having runners in scoring position with 2 outs, then Miggy is not the guy. He’s improved from .133 to .173 but he leads the AL in hitting into double plays and his performance numbers in this situation sit near the bottom of the team stats with only Stephen Moya beats him out for the cellar.
Ian Kinsler (and Maybin) would be my choice(s) as they rank near the top of the team in clutch hitting – only surpassed by Aybar, McCann and Collins albeit in limited showing. They are hitting well over .300 with RISP and 2 outs.
But there are two stories here. Miggy should be the guy – he was in 2015 and also in 2014. In fact, there should be a bunch of guys who could help me. But this has been a year of inconsistent timely hitting and after this past weekend, the heart of the order was on sabbatical once again.
VMart is hitting .222, Upton is at .246 and only JD is hitting a palatable .289 with RISP. It’s not just an issue with Miggy – it’s an issue that is team-wide which needs to be seriously addressed.
Would the Tigers be better off without a return of Zimmermann to the rotation this season?
It’s another puzzling time in the injury department for the Tigers. The situation with Jordan Zimmermann has been a fluid topic; at least on my end of the blog. I went as far as to say that Jordan Zimmermann was the most important starter heading into September. I preached Sanchez the whole season, but I switched for a bit.
But I feel a little foolish, because I thought the Tigers would bring him back when he was ready to pitch. Was it at all critical to have Zimmermann come back at any less than 100%? And if the Tigers claim that he was, then why are we skipping his next start? Again, the Tigers have some explaining to do.
This rotation has been doing quite well and frankly, who would question it if they said to Jordan: get yourself ready for next season; we have something good going here. But the Tigers pushed Jordan back into the rotation against one of the best offenses in baseball; a very unnecessary move, and equally as risky given their decreasing margin for error.
Much of my disbelief about pitching Zimmermann on Saturday was outlined in my previous blog; https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2016/09/11/arms-injuries-and-unclear-objectives/.
With less than 3 weeks until the end of the season, and the Tigers still within reach of a wild card slot, all competing teams are now in playoff mode – meaning that they are taking fewer risks and attempting to maximize the odds of winning.
Experimenting now should not be part of the equation. Experimenting with pitchers who have lost literally half the season, haven’t pitched essentially since the end of June and having problems with MPH and pitch location should not be attempted. And anyone who wants to throw this pitcher back out there when the team can’t even score runs routinely should be slapped (see Moonstruck, Cher, “Snap out of it!”).
Rotation, no – but bullpen, maybe, and only in certain safe situations until a resumption of his expected track record is seen once again. You can never have too many options because you never know what will happen down the road and what will be needed.
But JZ was not impressive at all in Toledo and got absolutely shelled in his last outing there. There is no evidence as of yet that he is capable of returning to his former self anytime in the near future.
And given that his contract goes for 4 more years and balloons up to $24-25 million/year after 2017, I would want to ensure that the investment is protected for the long-term and not jeopardized because of what may be desperate decisions.