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Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Old English Report: Running 2-6 with their woes


This article covers the Tigers’ past week, not including Monday’s victory over the Kansas City Royals.

Through eight games of their 11 game road trip, the Detroit Tigers have compiled a less than stellar 2-6 record, but things were much worse than that record indicates.

The trip started in Houston, where the Astros proved throughout the series why they should be the favorite in the American League. They were clearly the better team, but the Tigers were able to escape a four game sweep and took the third game by a 6-3 score.

Things did not get much better in Chicago, where the Tigers dropped another 3-of-4 to the White Sox. This was a particularly frustrating series that saw the Tigers on the wrong side of history. The usual problems reared their ugly head on the South Side, just much worse than normal.

Tigers’ Overall Record 23-27
Games out of First Place 4
Games out of Wild Card 3

A Historically Bad Series

Even when they were winning divisions consistently, the Tigers were a frustrating team. The cold streaks at the plate, the mess of a bullpen and questionable managerial decisions have always plagued this organization over the past decade. This past weekend’s four game set with the lowly Chicago White Sox may be a new low for this team though.

In the series, the Tigers struck out 49 times, which broke a club record for K’s in a four game series that had been intact since 1913. On Friday night, the Tigers lost to Mike Pelfrey. I do not need to say anymore. In their doubleheader on Saturday, the Tigers drew 15 walks, but failed to plate a single one of those baserunners, just a small portion of the 24 total runners who were stranded by the team, setting a club record for runners left on base in a doubleheader. The first game of the doubleheader saw the Tigers lose to Tyler Danish, who was making his major league debut. This is not the first time a relatively unknown pitcher has given the Tigers a run for their money.

Things did not get any better on Sunday. Miguel Gonzalez, not exactly known for his pitching prowess, took a perfect game into the seventh inning. The Tigers looked lost at the plate once again, despite scraping together some small rallies late in the game.

The lone bright spot of this series was Buck Farmer, who went six and one-third shutout innings, striking out 11 on his way to his first career win. However, that stellar performance was nearly squandered in the ninth, when Justin Wilson came on in a non-save situation and gave up three runs on four hits. Had he blown that one, what little morale the tigers had left, might have been completely destroyed.

Out of excuses

In the thick of the debacle in Chicago, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus chimed in on what he thought of the scheduling hand the Tigers have been dealt before the start of Saturday’s doubleheader.

Sure, it’s a tough stretch. But please, spare us the excuses. Last season, it was the injuries, now it’s scheduling? Believe it or not, all 29 other teams have to deal with the same problems. The Tigers’ issue is not the scheduling, nor was it injuries last year. The Tigers’ issue is that they can’t overcome these obstacles. The Cleveland Indians were ravaged by injuries in 2016, but still ended up one win away from the World Series. Not to mention they dominated the Tigers during the regular season in the process.

This is what separates the great teams from the good teams, overcoming adversity. Surely Ausmus, with a combined 21 seasons of playing and managerial experience, has to be aware of this. The next day, with the bad schedule as a built-in excuse, the Tigers offense wasted another great start by Michael Fulmer and were shut out, despite being walked nine times.

Collins gets the boot

It was announced early Sunday morning that the Tigers had designated outfielder Tyler Collins for assignment. If we’re being brutally honest, Collins was never anything more than a “AAAA” player, but he still was still being slotted second in the batting order and starting in centerfield despite being shaky defensively and batting a miserable .108 in May.

You cannot overemphasize how badly Collins had been at the plate. Outside of one outlier game where he went 3-for-5 with two home runs, he was 2-for-57 in his last 18 games where he recorded an at bat. It is a mystery as to why he was still starting games. The Tigers now will wait and see if anybody claims the 26-year-old off waivers. If not, he will be on his way to Toledo.

After trading Cameron Maybin for dimes on the dollar, the Tigers decided to gamble and go in-house to fill the void left in centerfield. The DFAing of Collins and the struggles of Mikie Mahtook and Jacoby Jones have made it look like this was a serious judgment in error. As for Collins, this could be the end of a tumultuous tenure for him in the D. Barring a miraculous turnaround, he will always be known around these parts for this incident last year:


Zim’s Struggles Continue

Jordan Zimmermann had two starts on this road trip, two more chances to finally get the ball rolling and get back to his old form.

He was roughed up yet again both times, taking L’s in his starts against the Astros and the White Sox. The latter was a particularly embarrassing outing. He gave up all seven earned runs, including three home runs. Zimmermann’s struggles are very troubling for the Tigers, who made a huge investment last offseason in the right-hander. If this team expects to do any sort of damage, he simply needs to be better.

Zimmermann knows this is uncharacteristic, and he was very critical of himself postgame on Sunday, labelling his start as “terrible”. It is not uncommon in today’s MLB for a reliable pitcher to suddenly lose his touch seemingly overnight. The Tigers have seen it happen all too often, with Anibal Sanchez and many bullpen arms becoming simply unusable in recent years.

Zimmermann moved to 4-4 on the year and his ERA ballooned to 6.47 on the road trip. His ERA+ sits at an atrocious 63. What is most concerning is the alarming rate at which he is giving up home runs. His home runs per nine innings sits at 2.6 and his FIP is 6.62, good for second worst in the majors. You really have to wonder how much longer the Tigers can afford to send Jordan Zimmermann out every five games.

Around the League

On Friday, Hall of Fame pitcher and former US Senator Jim Bunning passed away. If you do not recognize that name, you really should, because he is one of the greatest pitchers the game has ever seen. From 1955 to 1971, the right hander made nine All Star Games, threw a no-hitter in 1958 with the Tigers, and a perfect game in 1964 with the Phillies. Despite never winning a Cy Young Award and having been elected to the Hall by the Veterans Committee, Bunning’s numbers are right there with some of the greats of his time. Take for example, his career WAR of 60.3. That is good for 59th all-time, and is better than both Sandy Koufax and Whitey Ford, two pitchers who captured Cy Young’s during Bunning’s career.

Jim Bunning was one of the most underrated talents in major league history. May he rest in peace.

Memorial Day saw some fireworks coming out of the Bay Area, in the form of haymakers being thrown by Bryce Harper after being plunked by Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland. Now that the smoke has cleared, we know that Strickland was seeking retribution for two bombs Harper hit off of him in the 2014 Postseason, a series won by the Giants en route to a World Series. Interestingly enough, his catcher Buster Posey made no effort to try and stop Harper from charging.

Many people are getting mad at Posey, and even Harper for this incident. They could not be any more wrong. This is all on Strickland, who is still bitter over being clowned by one of the best hitters in baseball. Beaning Harper was a bush league move. Strickland has the World Series ring on his finger and should sleep very well at night knowing that.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I think there needs to be more fire and passion in baseball. I enjoy watching emotions boiling over and seeing a bench-clearing fracas every now and then. But on the other hand, I’m bothered by baseball’s “unwritten rule” mentality. Harper had every right to admire his home runs three years ago, they were absolute moonshots. If you don’t want to be mad about guys pimping home runs, don’t let them hit them in the first place.

As for Harper, it is good to see a superstar that cares so little about what the fans and media think of him. His critics simply need to loosen up and appreciate the greatness that he is. Not everyone is going to be a golden boy who sets out to impress everyone. Harper should be the face of baseball, and I respect his spur of the moment decision to defend himself and charge Strickland.


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