I’ve got the solution for the Tigers offensive problems. It’s simple really, and it has nothing to do with patience, and waiting for guys to come back to career norms (though that will be an effect anyway). In fact, we won’t have to wait past Friday night. That’s right, the Minnesota Twins pitching staff is the cure for what ails the Tigers bats.
While I am sure that hitting coach Lloyd McClendon was about to go all Pedro Cerrano on his Tigers hitters, and begin capping his bats with hats, or offering up rum to Jobu, the simplest plan is just going to Minnesota and letting Tigers hitters feast on terrible pitching.
How terrible is Minnesota pitching?
Real terrible. Minnesota is dead last in so many categories pitching wise, you would think that the Detroit Tigers circa 2003 could get 5 runs a game off of that staff. For starters, the Twins staff as a whole has an ERA of 5.38, more than half a run worse than the next worst staff in the American League. The lack of ability on the Twins part to dominate hitters is largely the cause of the problem. The Twins are dead last in strikeouts, and have the highest opponent batting average against of .283.
The Twins are not only giving up a ton of hits as a staff, they are getting hit hard as well. The Twins lead the American League in home runs given up with 66, so expect a few Tigers to leave the cavernous Target Field several times this weekend.
Both the starters and the bullpen have been bad, but it’s the starting pitching that is killing the Twins especially. The starters have a collective 6.36 ERA so far in 2012. Ouch! Even the Royals starters have an ERA of 5.05 and they have Luke Hochevar on their staff and a bunch of minor league replacements taking turns. Hitters are batting .314 against Twins starters, so the Tigers hitters need to be ready to get healthy this weekend.
The Tigers will be facing three righties this weekend; Anthony Swarzak, Carl Pavano and his championship mustache, and P.J. Walters. I should caution Tigers fans, these guys are pretty much the Twins “aces” at this point. In fact, Walters has an ERA of 2.95 in his 3 big league starts this season, one of them against the Tigers. Walters, while he doesn’t really have good stuff, kept the Tigers off-balance the first time he saw them, and looked like a poor man’s version of Doug Fister out there. Swarzak and Pavano have been very pedestrian this year, with ERA’s of 4.73 and 4.91 respectively.
Now, nothing is a given in baseball, as evidenced by the Twins coming into Comerica last week and sweeping a short two game set with the Tigers, but if the Tigers staff and fans are looking for the bats to get healthy, this could be the weekend.
At least it better be, because if you think people are concerned now, lose 2 of 3, or get swept by the Twins, Jim Leyland and folks might want to avoid phone calls and office visits from Mr. Dombrowski.
That might be overstating it, but if Leyland and the Tigers don’t show well this season, an already hot seat will begin to boil.