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David Purcey Still Can’t Throw Strikes


When the Detroit Tigers traded Scott Sizemore to Oakland for left hander David Purcey, it was widely regarded as a bad deal for the Tigers. The thought was that Sizemore, who had been the Tigers top hitting prospect just a season before, had a much higher ceiling than that of a middle reliever. Those who supported the trade did so understanding that Sizemore hadn’t shown the ability to hit major league pitching and that the Tigers, who still had Phil Coke in the rotation at that point, had a need in their bullpen.

When Purcey first arrived in Motown, he was pretty good. In fact, over his first eight appearances spanning 9.1 innings, Purcey held opponents to a .133 average and he fanned seven batters. Of course, he also walked six, but that was mitigated by his success in limiting the hits he was giving up. In his last 11 outings, however, things have gotten ugly.

Twice in the past four appearances, including today, Purcey has faced three batters and failed to get an out. In his past 9.1 innings, he has walked 14 batters and struck out five, oh yeah, and opponents are hitting over .400 against him. This afternoon, acting manager Lloyd McClendon brought Purcey in with a one-run deficit. He allowed a lead-off single, then walked the next batter, then the next batter (who was trying to bunt), and went 2-0 on the fourth hitter before McClendon yanked him in favor of Phil Coke. Coke was knocked around pretty good, but at least he threw strikes, I guess. The three runs Purcey was charged with today gives him 15 earned runs in his last 11 outings.

Things certainly haven’t gone according to plan with Purcey and the Tigers. Dave Dombrowski apparently had been trying to acquire Purcey for quite some time from the Blue Jays, but wasn’t able to match up on a deal. When the southpaw was dealt to the Athletics, Dombrowski was able to get the guy he coveted and boy has that move failed miserably. It’s not as if Sizemore has been great for Oakland; he really hasn’t and Sizemore would be still be toiling in AAA were he still with the Tigers. That said, this Purcey experiment has got to end.

The Tigers have danced this dance before, trading for a left hander with a history of command problems. At least this time they didn’t immediately hand Purcey a fat extension the way they did with Dontrelle Willis. Think the two aren’t the same situation? Maybe not. But when a batter is squaring early to show the world he wants to lay down a sacrifice bunt and the pitcher still misses the strike zone by three feet, you’re dealing with serious issues.

Maybe the Tigers can manufacture another mysterious “anxiety disorder” to hide Purcey from the roster. It worked with Dontrelle. Of course, they only did that because they owed him so much money. Purcey could be released without costing very much at all. He has no minor league options left, so there’s no fixing him in Toledo.

Regardless of the egg left on his face, Dombrowski cannot allow this guy to see even one more batter in Detroit.

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