I don’t enjoy beating a dead horse, but in my complete anger over yesterday afternoon’s loss in Kansas City, I may have missed a few things.
Kudos go to Jim Leyland for using Ramirez yesterday. With Curtis Granderson hitting .180 against left handers, it’s nice that Ramirez is getting an opportunity to help.
Ryan Raburn playing CF is not something I love, but the need for offense is fairly significant, and Raburn is much better than Grandy versus southpaws. Ramirez gives the club a chance to put a potentially dynamic player into the lineup when Grandy sits. Ramirez responded well with a 2 for 3 day, which included a triple and an RBI single.
I’m all for putting your best defensive team on the field whenever possible. Defense has been one of the big reasons that this club is so much better than last year’s version. That said, I cannot abide by using defensive replacements before the seventh inning.
Tuesday, Marcus Thames was lifted for Granderson in the fifth inning, yesterday Granderson entered in the sixth for Ramirez. Then of course, Zach Miner did what he does and when Ramirez’ spot came back around, Granderson was in the game against a lefty, in a big spot with two on and two out.
He swung twice at ball four and failed to come up with the big hit. I’m not saying Ramirez would have come through, but I’d think he had better odds of hitting Roman Colon than Grandy had versus the lefty Hughes.
Perhaps, and I’m really just thinking out loud here, but perhaps, we will all look back at the past three games as nothing more than a hiccup. Maybe the Tigers can right the ship at home tonight when Toronto comes to town. I still think this division is the Tigers’ to lose. If they can get to 85 wins, I think it will be tough for Minnesota or Chicago to catch them.
In order to arrive at 85 wins, the Tigers must go just 10-13 down the stretch. The Twins would have to finish 15-7 to reach that mark, while the White Sox would have to sport a record of 15-6. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, but we are talking about two teams that have not been eight games over .500 at any point this season, so they would have to play over their heads to get there.
Detroit is still very much in the driver’s seat coming down the end of the year. They do still have work to do, but at this point, it would take a New York Mets type collapse to miss the post season. This team does not have the problems that Mets team had.
The back-end of the bullpen is very good with the SeayLyon and Fernando Rodney. The only real question mark in the rotation is the fifth man, be it Jarrod Washburn or Armando Galarraga, assuming Nate Robertson can continue to pitch effectively. In fact, Washburn being a mid-season acquisition might help when it comes to how Leyland uses him.
What to do with Washburn
Leyland has a history of loyalty to his veterans, but Washburn certainly hasn’t been here long enough to build up any unearned chances to pitch his way through his struggles. Much like how Leyland has used Aubrey Huff, only against LHP and only at DH, he could use Washburn in the bullpen and probably not care whether or not Washburn was okay with it.
As we have seen with Galarraga this season and Gary Sheffield in the past, Leyland is usually much more willing to continue to use players he has a history with despite however ineffective they are. Washburn and Huff have no such history with Leyland, that could play a factor in how both are used down the stretch. At this point certainly, less Washburn is better for the Tigers’ playoff chances.